National Infertility Awareness Week is observed during the last week of April, this year being April 23rd to April 29nd. Infertility Awareness Week is a significant week that aims to raise awareness for those who are facing infertility. When diagnosed with cancer, many don’t even think about the possibility of becoming infertile, since they are so focused on surviving. There needs to be more knowledge around how cancer affects the body, and how it affects your fertility. In fact, less than 50 percent of physicians discuss the damage cancer treatment may have on your fertility according to the Chick Mission. Additionally, even if your physicians do inform you of the risks, most insurance companies will not even cover your preservation for patients, leaving you to make your decision based on your financial decision, leaving many to not get the opportunity to preserve.
You shouldn’t be faced with either saving your life and not being able to start a family when it's over, which is why the Chick Mission has created the Hope Grant Program. The Hope Grant Program is a program that supports newly diagnosed female patients choosing to preserve fertility options ahead of treatment.
Being diagnosed with breast cancer in your 20s is a scary time. Your life is just getting started, but you are now forced to stop everything to save your life. You’re faced with difficult life decisions, and have to jump through many obstacles to survive. According to Living Beyond Breast Cancer, only about 1 percent of all breast cancers happen in women younger than 30 years old, yet it is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women of that age group, and Bianca Muñiz was one of them.
Bianca was diagnosed with breast cancer at the young age of 22 and was faced with so much uncertainty in dealing with her life and her future. One of those uncertainties was her fertility. Bianca didn't know what she wanted, especially when thinking about starting a family. She was fresh out of college, planning her dream career, and never thought she would have to stop to think about whether or not she could have a family or not down the line. Read along as we share Bianca’s experience as she so kindly shared her incredible story with us and you.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would have to make a decision about having kids at 22 years old.
My name is Bianca. I’m a 3x cancer survivor with a rare mutation called TP53, which basically means that my tumor suppressing gene is broken and I am susceptible to almost every type of cancer.
The first time I was diagnosed was at 11 years old - ovarian cancer.
I lost my right ovary and went through one of the most aggressive forms of chemo for 6 months.
I was considered “NED” for 11 years until I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 22, along with my mutation.
It was a complete shock.
After my double mastectomy, it was assumed that I would start chemo immediately, but my oncologist advocated for me and insisted I freeze my eggs… just in case.
Egg freezing was wayyyy too expensive for my family, but my oncologist came to the rescue and helped us find the Livestrong fertility program for cancer patients.
I’m glad she did.
I had never thought about my fertility before. I was nowhere near even thinking about having kids…. but all of a sudden, there I was… in my kitchen, trying to inject a needle into my stomach to be able to preserve some eggs before starting chemo.
I was terrified to inject myself. Every time, it took me about an hour to finally inject the needle into my stomach. I was so bloated and uncomfortable during that process…my hormones were all over the place. I was having terrible mood swings, and I just remember wanting it to be over, so I could move on with chemo and be finished with that too. I was impatient.
I never really stopped to think about all of this before.
It was just what I had to do.
Surgery, egg freezing, chemo, more surgery, more treatment.
But now, I’m grateful I had the opportunity to freeze my eggs.
I was worried I was infertile already from my first round of chemo and wouldn’t be able to save any eggs at all, especially with only having one ovary left.
We managed to freeze 9 “good” eggs.
I am so grateful to Livestrong and my oncologist for helping to preserve the possibility of having my own kids in the future.
I don’t know if I’ll be able to carry them in my own body, and for a while I felt sad that I would never be able to breastfeed them… but what is important is that I’m alive.”
Livestrong fertility helped Bianca during her journey, and she is so grateful that they did. Livestrong fertility is dedicated to providing reproductive information and resources to support cancer survivors whose cancer put their fertility at risk. According to Livestrong, the average cost for female fertility preservation in the United States is $12,000 for women and just $700 for men. That is why Livestrong has partnered with compassionate clinics across the country who have all committed to providing at least a 25% off discount to qualifying patients. Additionally, they have also partnered with EMD Serno to provide free stimulation medication to patients approved through their programs.
You shouldn’t be faced with either saving your life and not being able to start a family when it's over. You should be given the option to fight and think about your future at the same time. We stand with the Chick Mission and don’t want to see anyone let emotions, or financial costs of a cancer diagnosis stand in the way of you and your life after you beat the disease get in the way of you starting a family. If you can, please consider donating to the Chick Mission to help other young women get the chance of fighting like hell and having a happy ending with the opportunity to have children.
We would love to hear from you! Share your stories and comments in the comments section!