So as well as dealing with the ‘here and now’ it seems that you also need to try to focus on the future.
You see when you are young, and you are diagnosed with breast cancer the fertility issue is bound to creep up… and it doesn’t just creep, it slaps you square in the face.
As well as deciding about surgery it becomes apparent quite quickly that any resulting treatment (be it chemotherapy or radiotherapy) can damage your chances of having children. That, together with the prospect of early onset menopause from hormone therapy means your options are fairly limited.
I’m sure that my friends & family would tell you that my head is dizzy at the best of times. Since my diagnosis, my concentration and memory have reached shockingly low levels (this can no longer be blamed on ‘baby brain’ when you have a three year old). Having said that, I am pretty sure – no actually positive, that I hadn’t finished my family.
Both myself and my husband ran a standing joke as to whether we were finished having babies (usually after a sleepless night, a dramatic tantrum or too much wine). Yet when asked if we had finished our family by my breast care nurse, we did not have a real answer – the thing is that we had not yet decided.
Quickly referred to a fertility specialist we were given the option of IVF or several other drugs to try to minimise any damage that treatment would inevitably have on my body. Reluctantly we decided to let nature decide, given that we already have two beautiful, healthy children.
Now I can’t imagine what it feels like to have to make such decisions before you start a family. Or even to be told that having children is not an option. But I do truly have a greater empathy with all of my friends who have had to go down the IVF road.
The best I can do is to say is how it feels to accept that breast cancer has taken away our choice.
It feels like something very precious has been stolen from us before we even realised it had happened. Something that may have never been there in the first place, but if it was, it has now gone, and that is truly heartbreaking.
In truth, I cannot think about it for too long because I get that ‘girly’ anger where you get so mad the tears well up in your eyes. So what I try to do instead, is to think of the things that I am thankful for.
I don’t take for granted a single thing that I have. I know how lucky I am to have two beautiful children and a husband who loves me – and for that I am truly grateful, no matter what the future holds.