One of my biggest fears, even before all of this started, was that I wouldn't be able to have children one day. So, as you can imagine, the issue of preserving my fertility throughout treatment was one of the first things that came to mind when I started out on this journey.
During my initial consultations with my team, I asked each doctor what their thoughts were. My breast surgeon and oncologist mentioned a drug called lupron, then referred me to a fertility specialist to further discuss my options.
One of the many things I never thought I'd be doing at 24 is visiting a fertility specialist, but my mom, fiance and I headed off for an early morning appointment to discuss our options. The doctor gave us two solid options: 1) lupron injections or 2) lupron injections + freezing my eggs. She had talked with the rest of my medical team before our appointment and advised me that, though it was ultimately my choice, they all agreed option 1, lupron injections alone, was my best choice.
If you're curious to learn more about lupron, you can read about it here, but a lot of the literature you can find on the drug is kind of confusing. So here a visual image on how it works (essentially, I am not a doctor)- if you imagine your ovaries as having a door on them, lupron works by hormonally closing the doors and locking them. Therefore, all of my eggs are kept safe and sound throughout my treatment process. All I have to do is get a shot (in the butt, UGH), once a month. It's as easy as that!
So why did my doctors suggest I do only the injections? Well, the process of harvesting eggs requires pumping your body full of hormones. My cancer is hormone positive, basically meaning that the cancer is feeding off of my hormones. You can imagine why my doctors weren't too jazzed about the idea of giving my body even more hormones. This, on top of the 3-6 week delay in my treatment start date, led them to recommend the lupron method of fertility preservation. After discussing with my fiance and family, we all agreed that this was a method we were comfortable with. Especially because the fertility specialists assured us that every case study they have has resulted in positive results and that IVF is still an option on the table for us down the road, should we encounter problems.
Some nasty side effects have included hot flashes, really bad breakouts and a painful period at the beginning of cycle one but, thankfully, these have all subsided after the first month. The only side effect I still deal with are the hot flashes, but they have gotten a lot less frequent than they were at first.
As always, consult your doctors as every case is different! I wanted to offer a little snippet about what I personally am going through as this is an issue unique to young breast cancer patients. I've gotten lots of questions about what my plans are so I hope you find this helpful!