3 Patient Journeys: Breast Cancer & Having a Family

Breast cancer impacts one in eight women.

For any woman diagnosed with breast cancer who would also like to have a child, the diagnosis is doubly devastating. While trying to map out the next steps forward, these patients are also forced to decide whether they would like to have a biological child someday.

In the past, patients had to absorb the fees of freezing their eggs. As of January 1st, 2019, cancer patients now have fertility preservation covered by insurance per Illinois law.

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we are sharing three unique patient journeys. Each woman was impacted by breast cancer differently and has persevered and made the chance of a child a possibility.

Jennifer: A baby after breast cancer in a family of breast cancer survivors

Jennifer was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer just six weeks after her wedding. What quickly followed was freezing her eggs, a double mastectomy, chemotherapy, and five years of Tamoxifen. In 2015, she was finally given clearance to begin fertility treatment. After two cycles without a pregnancy, she took a break. The next year, her mother and sister-in-law were diagnosed with stage one breast cancer a month apart. Together, the family fought the dual diagnosis as her mother and sister-in-law underwent lumpectomies and radiation. Determined to become a mother, Jennifer vowed to live the healthiest life possible. She lost 35 pounds and quit smoking and drinking. She then pursued treatment again with Dr. Allison Rodgers and is now a mother to daughter Emmie. All three women are cancer-free. Learn more about Jennifer’s story below or in this ABC Chicago segment.

9 Years and 9 Embryos Later, I am a Mother

Sujata: Ensuring her children won’t have the BRCA gene

After learning her sister had breast cancer and the BRCA gene, a gene mutation that greatly increases the chance of breast cancer, Sujata also learned that she had the BRCA gene. She was then told her ovarian reserve was low as a result of the mutation, and that she would need to plan her family quickly. Devastated by her sister’s diagnosis, she focused on helping her heal and vowed her children would not inherit the BRCA gene. Through IVF and genetic testing with Dr. Jennifer Hirshfeld-Cytron, she was able to stop the BRCA gene in her family line and now has a daughter, Eera. Learn more about Sujata’s story below or in this Living Healthy Chicago segment.

I Stopped Breast Cancer In My Family Line

Anna: Freezing eggs after a cancer diagnosis at 25

After being diagnosed with breast cancer at 25, Anna wasn’t sure if she wanted to be a parent yet - but she knew she wanted the option. In the midst of her final college classes, Anna froze her eggs just two months shy of her Loyola University graduation date. She graduated on time with a 4.0 while going through cancer treatment. Anna now cancer-free and dedicated to helping the breast cancer community. She is involved with several nonprofits including Gilda's Club, where she sits on the board so she can connect with other young women who have breast cancer. Learn more about Anna’s story below or in this WCIU The Jam segment.

My Journey as a 25-year-old Cancer Survivor

For any woman experiencing a breast cancer diagnosis, or supporting a loved one on their road to recovery, we send our heartfelt support and well wishes.

"Whatever you do, hold on to hope. The tiniest thread will twist into an unbreakable cord. Let hope anchor you in the possibility that this is not the end of your story, that change will bring you to peaceful shores."  - Unknown

In good health,

The Fertility Centers of Illinois Team