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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Freezing Time

My apartment looks amazing on TV! Lighting is everything 
Thursday, November 1st marks my 30th birthday. And as I approach this milestone birthday, I can't help but feel the same way I have felt for the last three birthdays...shocked and disappointed that I'm celebrating another birthday with cancer. I've been dealing Hodgkin's Lymphoma for so long now, it almost feels normal...except it's totally NOT normal! When I was diagnosed at 26, I expected that by the time I turned 30, this cancer mess would be nothing but a nasty memory. But instead as each year has rolled by I've realized that life (or maybe just my life!) just isn't that simple.

Some people may say that I'm lucky to see 30, considering that I was diagnosed with cancer more than three years ago. And while that is very true, it's also heartbreaking to feel like you will never get away from cancer. I. Am. So. Over. It. All of it! It makes me sick to my stomach to think of how many times I thought, "by this time next year I'll be in remission!" only to reach next year and still be fighting. I know what the alternative is, so of course I'd rather have cancer for 20 years than not be here at all, but with every birthday, every anniversary, every holiday, every New Year's Eve, I always wonder where I will be in my life the following year.

Even though I have done my best to live a positive (and of course fabulous) life despite cancer, some days I can't help wishing that I could go back to 26 and freeze time right before my diagnosis, right before my life was turned upside down and changed forever. So it's ironic that "Freezing Time" is the name of the story that I was featured in tonight on NBC's Nightly News. The story is on ovarian tissue cyropreservation and how this amazing procedure is offering female cancer patients options for having a family after cancer treatment.

I met with Dr. Kutluk Oktay, one of the pioneers in the procedure, in Feb 2010 right after my first relapse. He performed the ovarian tissue cryopreservation surgery in an effort to save my ovarian tissue before my autologous stem cell transplant. In the midst of everything else I was dealing with, removing one ovary for the future seemed pretty simple. Save an ovary, put it on ice, go kill cancer. Done and done. Dr. Oktay said I actually woke up from the surgery smiling! I tend to be very happy after anesthesia, go figure.

I didn't think about my fertility that much for the first two years of cancer treatment. But now, on the cusp of 30, I think about it all the time. More and more I find myself thinking about babies and how/if/when we can start a family. While I am in no rush to have a child right at this moment (and frankly neither is Ross!), it's scary to not know if it's even possible...especially when everyone in the world (or at least on Facebook!) is pregnant. And getting older is only a reminder that I don't have forever. The ovarian tissue procedure is still very new and nothing is guaranteed, so my ovarian tissue may or may not result in a live birth, and in fact I don't even know if I can carry a baby myself, so there are a lot of variables here. But regardless, I'm glad I did it because no matter what happens, it gave me a little spark of hope.

Watch the segment below (Dr. Nancy Synderman said my name! I love her!!):

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  1. So exciting! I spoke with Dr. Oktay, but at the time we didn't have the time or means to travel to NY and pay that kind of money. I have worked as a labor and delivery RN for 22 years and know a (locally at least), widely recognized fertility doc here in NC - Dr. Sameh Toma of NCCRM, who agreed to do the procedure for my daughter. He has a most generous heart and did this as a service for my daughter. We continue to be so very grateful. BTW, my daughter remains in remission after her sct, and auto/mini allo x 2 years and 9 months.