October 2012 eNews
Hope for Realizing Family Dreams After Cancer
By Lauren Haring, BS, ASN, RN
With Breast Cancer Awareness Month upon us and Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month just passing us by in September, it seems like the perfect time to share my passion for a program that we are proud to offer at GIVF. The Fertility Preservation Center for Cancer Patients is a program specifically designed to help cancer patients preserve their fertility so they can have the chance for their own biological children once they’ve beaten their cancer diagnosis.
Advancements in medicine have brought hope to those who are diagnosed with many different kinds of cancer. Not only are the treatments more advanced and efficient, but people are finding out they have cancer at a younger age. This is all positive momentum for the overall fight against cancer, but it also means that there are more cancer survivors out there continuing to live normal, healthy lives who might not be aware of the after-effects of their cancer treatments, as well as the overall time treatments will take that could affect their future fertility.
Unfortunately, while the advanced treatments for cancer like chemo and radiation are very effective for killing the cancer and helping to save lives, they also wreak havoc on the reproductive system, both in men and women. With 140,000 people under the age of 45 diagnosed each year, we’re talking about a lot of survivors still in their child-bearing years. When talking about breast cancer specifically, there are 11,000 a year diagnosed. Not surprisingly, 60% said future fertility is a relevant issue for them, yet only half of oncologists discuss fertility risks*. Some might not have families yet or even be married, but they’re facing treatments that might not allow them to take that journey. This is where we can help!
The main goal of The Fertility Preservation Center for Cancer Patients is to take the pressure off and allow the patient to focus on the emotional and physical goal of getting well without having to worry about the impact on their future fertility. We help patients through the process of preserving their eggs, sperm, or embryos, so that they can focus on being well, then worrying about having a family later. There’s no guarantee that patients will definitely have children in the future, but I like to think of it as an insurance policy, something that can allow them to breathe a little easier and focus on the real fight ahead.
GIVF is uniquely positioned to offer these services for many reasons, including that we were the first outpatient fertility clinic in the US, the first and one of the largest sperm banks in the country, the national leader in egg, embryo, and sperm storage, and have an in-house embryology lab so that nothing ever leaves our doors. But most importantly, our program is special because we have a dedicated team specifically to make the patient feel comfortable with the process. Dr. Stephen Lincoln and I are a doctor/nurse team ready to be put into action as soon as we get that first outreach from a potential patient. We encourage surgeons and oncologists to have the patient (or the office’s patient coordinator) make a phone call right away to see how we can help. Getting them in ASAP is important because what we do relates to the menstrual cycle and timing is critical. Even just getting a patient information to make the most informed decision is extremely valuable.
Whether during business hours or on our personal cell phones, when we get that call, we will talk to the patient within 24 hours and get them all of the information they need, holding their hand every step of the way. Even if they don’t move forward with treatment, the information we offer about how the cancer treatments (and the time it takes to undergo cancer treatment) may affect their future fertility, is priceless information that the oncologist doesn’t often have time to cover with all of the important things they have to discuss.
After the initial consultation and minor testing to determine that we can move forward, I sit down and go through all of the medications and process personally to make sure they are comfortable and prepared. During our treatment, we stay in very close contact with the surgeon, oncologists, and other care givers that are involved in a patient’s care. The entire process can be anywhere from 10-14 days (from the setart of their menstrual cycle), but then we can get that patient on their way to cancer treatments knowing that their eggs or embryos (in the case where a couple chooses this option), are safe and sound until they’ve conquered their diagnosis and are ready to focus on growing their family. When our patients are done with the process, we give them a keepsake bracelet with little boxing gloves to remind them that GIVF is in their corner for the boxing match ahead.
Finances are often a deterrent, but we have found creative ways to make it affordable. The cost of our services for cancer patients is truly minimal. By working with a pharmaceutical company, who has partnered with Walgreen’s, we are able to get the majority of treatment medications for free. We’ve also made it so that the testing and one year of egg or embryo storage is completely free. The actual cost for the services is probably less than you might spend on Starbucks in a year. It’s truly minimal and we are here to coach you through every aspect, including how to make the finances work.
I am so proud to be a part of this program. It’s such a rewarding part of my day to serve these patients when they have so much else on their plate. I feel good knowing that we’re taking one of the stressors off and letting them know there is one more person rooting for them in the fight. If you know anyone who might benefit from these services, please help us spread the word. I would love to meet them and join their team of supporters. You can reach me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling us at 703-698-7355.
*Stats from Journal of Clinical Oncology
New at GIVF:
- Win an iPad 3! Like GIVF on Facebook before November 4th! Specific details and rules can be found here.
- IVF Plus: A discount program for both past and future patients. With such high success rates, Donor Egg IVF can offer new hope to couples struggling to conceive. Take the next step on your journey toward parenthood and receive a credit of 25% of your previous IVF costs toward a Donor Egg IVF cycle. Details here.
- Open enrollment is coming up. Have baby plans for next year? FSA tips! If you want to try for a baby in 2013, now's the time to consider how much money you want to put away 'pre-tax' through a flexible spending plan. If your employer offers it, ask for details now so you can be prepared for open enrollment. Plus, if you have a balance left in your 2012 FSA plan, remember that it's 'use it or lose it,' so call us now at 703-698-7355 to make your appointment to get started.
- GIVF at the Tigerlily Foundation EmPOWER Ball. This event is October 20th and we are excited to be a part of it. We're a Bronze Sponsor and will be proudly talking about our Fertility Preservation for Cancer Patients. Learn about Tigerlily Foundation here.
Celebrating our survivor:
If you have been a patient at GIVF, you have probably met the amazing Cindy Nance. Cindy has been serving our patients for more than 20 years and is an integral member of the GIVF family. Something you may not know is that Cindy has been personally battling breast cancer, all while super serving our patients like the super woman she is. We take this opportunity to say THANK YOU Cindy for your dedication. Your strength is an inspiration to us all!
The Genetics & IVF Institute (GIVF) regularly publishes an informative newsletter featuring the latest infertility news and developments. The newsletter is sent electronically via email. To subscribe, click here.