April 27th, 2023 | 11 min. read
Taking Drastic Measures to Protect My Health
This has been one of the hardest things I’ve had to go through, especially at only 30 years old.
I would truly be lost going without the support of my mom. She has been so supportive and encouraging, helping me make lots of hard decisions I never thought I would have to make.
My oncologist and I both agreed that the right course of action for me would be to undergo a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (removal of both ovaries) and a bilateral mastectomy (removal of both breasts). I took this news pretty hard, as you might imagine.
Exploring Ways to Preserve My Fertility
I spoke to my oncologist and told him I didn’t think I was done having children yet. This was a big factor in my prophylactic treatment decision. My wonderful team and I came to the agreement that I would freeze some eggs and proceed from there. I scheduled my surgeries and decided it was time to begin egg freezing.
Thankfully, at this point on my journey, I was already an employee at Illume Fertility! I had a very hard time deciding who I wanted to be my doctor and help me through this process.
From my very first day at Illume, Dr. Joshua Hurwitz was always there for me and happy to listen to me talk about the craziness that I call my life. I ultimately decided that he was going to be the one to help me preserve my fertility.
Is egg freezing right for me?
Dr. Hurwitz was honest with me from the get-go, telling me that freezing my eggs was not a back-up plan or an insurance policy that I will necessarily be able to have more children in the future. That wasn't something I really thought about until after we discussed it. He sat down with me and showed me all of the statistics he could to help me make an informed decision.
At age 30, with a rare genetic disease as well as BRCA2+, it was important to get all of the information I could before I decided if egg freezing was the right course of action for me. It was so helpful to see everything - all the facts - laid out for me right there on the screen.
Dr. Hurwitz also explained to me that low AMH levels and the BRCA+ gene can often go hand in hand, which I never knew. It explained so much. Dr. Hurwitz gave me hope that if I do want another child one day, that will still be a possibility for me, even when my ovaries are gone.
My Egg Freezing Journey
Beginning my fertility preservation journey was really hard for me at first. I was completely alone, giving myself daily injections and trying to navigate these big life stressors solo. In addition to the physical challenges of an egg freezing cycle, the emotional and mental exhaustion of navigating it all was starting to get to me.
I didn’t have many follicles growing (which was expected with my very low AMH level) and even though I knew this was going to be the case, it was still really upsetting. I kept pushing through and hoping for the best. I wouldn’t have been able to get through it all without my Illume team. They have been so supportive of me, not only as coworkers, but as friends.
When the day of my egg retrieval came, I finally got some good news. After waking up from my procedure, they gave me the most amazing update: they had been able to retrieve more follicles than any of us expected!
That was the best news I’d gotten throughout this whole journey.
It's a relief to know that when I’m ready to grow my family again, my eggs will always be 30 years old. So if I decide 10 years from now that I want to have another child, I won't have to worry about how old my eggs and I are.
Finding out that you need to have your ovaries removed is huge. It’s something you can’t take back. Illume helped me make a very permanent situation feel a little less permanent, and allowed me to keep my options open for the future.
I'm so glad I was able to pursue egg freezing, and equally grateful for Dr. Hurwitz, who has been very involved, not only in my egg freezing journey, but in helping me navigate being BRCA2+.
Egg Freezing Gave Me Hope Again
Egg freezing isn’t something that’s talked about enough - and it should be. So many people don’t even know it’s an option for them. I wish there were more stories shared about fertility preservation, and that’s why I chose to share mine.
If you are looking to freeze your eggs, whether it’s because you're not ready to start a family yet, for fertility preservation purposes, because your “biological clock” is ticking, or something completely different, I strongly suggest doing some research and following your heart.
If you have any doubts, talk to a fertility doctor, seek advice from other professionals, or reach out and talk to people who have gone through it.
The reason I chose to share my unique journey is because no matter now much I searched, no one ever seemed to have a similar situation. People freeze their eggs for so many different reasons, but I never came across a story that resonated with me. With that in mind, I hope that me sharing my story can help someone else who may be feeling alone.
Finding My Own Strength
Looking back on the past eight years of struggles, tears, feelings of hopelessness, the yearning to have a family - it has all lead me to this. I am stronger because of all of the challenges and setbacks I have faced. The desire to be a mom has always kept me going.
Even though I have my two wonderful sons, I still feel like our little family isn't complete.
I hope to one day find Mr. Right and continue to grow our family with my newly frozen eggs. But even if I don’t meet someone, I know my eggs will always be there for me when I’m ready.
From One Warrior to Another:
If you are facing genetic issues, low ovarian reserve, unexplained infertility, or any other fertility issues, I want you to encourage you to never give up. I know how hard it is to feel like it’s never going to happen for you, but there is always hope.
If you want to build a family, keep going. Be patient with yourself and your journey.
There are so many other people out there experiencing similar struggles, even if you don't see them. You are never alone. Reach out for support, ask lots of questions, and don't stop fighting for your future family until you achieve your goals. You've got this!