I hadn’t even realised chemotherapy could take away my chances of having children in the future. As a 20 year old female, I hadn’t even started thinking about having a family. But when you’re faced with the words “you might not be able to have children with this type of chemotherapy.” Your whole world stops.
It’s not fair that cancer can take a lot of things away from you. And one of them was children. When I was younger, I never thought I wanted children, but being presented with these words has changed my perspective, when I knew it could be taken away from me. Now I want to start a family, because I know how precious life is.
My doctor had thought of everything and came up with a plan to make sure I could still have the option. After my first or second round of chemotherapy, I’d be having ‘Ovarian Cyropreservation’.
This surgery isn’t currently being funded by the NHS, it’s a charity for young women just like me, who are facing cancer. I believe in England that Oxford is one of the only places that do this kind of surgery (please correct me if I’m wrong).
The procedure was simple, they would perform keyhole surgery and take one of my ovaries out. They then would slice my ovary into about 55 strips and freeze and store the eggs until I decide I want to start trying for family.
What happens on the day?
The procedure took place at the Women’s Centre at the John Radcliffe as an outpatient. Woohoo! I didn’t have to stay the night, I couldn’t bare another night at a hospital, especially on a different ward.
I walked into a room with other women waiting to have various surgeries and procedures. The nurse was delighted to tell me I was first on the list to have surgery as I was a cancer patient, cancer perks I guess.
Stripping down and putting on a gown was next on my agenda, and then the dreaded waiting began. I wasn’t feeling too nervous because I’ve had a few surgeries within my 20 years of life.
Finally, it was my time to shine. I remember the nurse struggling to put a cannula in my veins, which was nothing new to me. She kept apologising but trust me, I’ve been prodded enough times that the pain becomes sort of numb. I was eventually put to sleep.
30 minutes later and the procedure was finished. Woke up with a sore throat but again, I expected that. And I came back into the recovery room with one less ovary. The nurses took my observations and noticed my pulse, 120bpm. Now, this was nothing new to me and my cancer doctor knows about my pulse, but this ward wanted to keep me overnight to make sure. I was thrilled. Not. Another night in a hospital, will I catch a break?
I was only kept for one night thankfully.
I think out of all the surgeries I’ve had, and all the pain I’ve felt. This definitely tops them all (I have a high pain tolerance) and usually pain doesn’t bother me. But this was horrific. I couldn’t stand up properly, I was bent over because my abdomen was killing me. My dad took me home, and I had to put my coat in between the seatbelt and my stomach. Oh, and my stomach was like a balloon! Plus, while the gas tries to leave your body, it travels through your diaphragm, which means your shoulders hurt!
For the first few days, I could not move and needed help standing up and walking around the house. But eventually, the pain went away and I was back to normal. I don’t regret this surgery at all.