Getting My Eggs Frozen: How It All Went Down! (Plus A Treatment Update)

Getting My Eggs Frozen: How It All Went Down! (Plus A Treatment Update)

Hey there little bears,

I did a poll on Instagram earlier today about what topic you would like to hear about most when it comes to how my treatment has gone so far and seeing as though my radiotherapy isn’t finished yet, most of you wanted to hear about how my egg freezing went!

Incase you’re wondering why I had to have my eggs frozen, it isn’t because I have cervical cancer or may have to have a hysterectomy. This is a crazy rumour and I have no idea where it came from but I don’t have cervical cancer and I will be keeping my womb.

For those who need a recap, the type of cancer that I have is a sarcoma. There are a set of muscular tumours in the wall of my vagina. The cancer isn’t what will leave me infertile, it’s the treatment. Radiotherapy and chemotherapy are incredibly damaging for both male and female reproductive organs and cause infertility in most cases. So, before my treatment started, I was advised to have my eggs frozen.

I was treated by the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin and I do have to say that the customer service and level of professionalism was brilliant. I was offered counselling services and monitored closely by a team of lovely nurses who were so accommodating (for the most part- we’ll get to that later). The process itself is quite bleak, though. What I mean by that is if you don’t like injections or needles, you’d be fecked. The version that I’m gonna give you of how it went down is going to be fairly simplified. I’m not going to give you the drug names or dosages or anything like that. And at the end of me explaining everything that happened, I’ll give a little reflection on how I felt about it all- especially the infertility part. Sound cool? Cool.

First of all, I got brought in for an internal ultrasound. Basically, a rod gets put up your vagina and it allows the nurses to see, onscreen, your ovaries and the current state of your reproductive organs. Also, bloods were taken to check that I had no viral infections before we began. Obviously it wouldn’t be safe to freeze eggs that could potentially have AIDS. I obviously was all clear!

NOW, a bit of background and context on an understandable level: on a regular period cycle an ordinary woman would produce ONE POTENTIAL EGG for fertilisation. Because the nurses need more than one egg for the case of trial and error (sometimes that egg won’t fertilise or be healthy enough etc),  you are prescribed a course of hormone injections that encourage egg production for your retrieval.

So for two weeks straight, I had to inject myself with hormones into my tummy every evening. On the second week, a morning time injection was added to correlate with the other one, except this one was injected into my thigh. Every second day during these two weeks, I had to visit the hospital for the internal ultrasound that we talked about above to monitor my eggs and get my bloods taken to check my oestrogen levels etc. The eggs were measured and counted every time I visited and based on how they were doing, the dose of my injections may have changed.

When my eggs were at a decent number and a healthy size, I was prescribed one last injection (which was different from the other two) that induced the eggs for retrieval. I popped this into my tummy two days before my scheduled procedure and discontinued all other hormone injections.

With all of these hormones being injected into my system, I thought that I would be stupidly angry and difficult to deal with. I thought I’d be hormonal as hell. But to be honest, apart from my tummy being a little bit tender and bloated, I was grand. I had a cry once or twice… BUT HEY, I’m going through cancer treatment! So, I bet it’s more to do with that and less to do with the injections.

The procedure itself wasn’t the best- in my experience. It’s a small enough procedure. They basically use a large needle to drain all of the fluid from your ovaries so they can retrieve the eggs. It takes about thirty minutes in total and you’re sedated for it so you’re not supposed to feel anything or know anything about it. HOWEVER, there was a bit of an ordeal because I was promised a valium for nerves in advance and then not given it. I also woke up in the operating room but was immediately put back under. For that reason, I was distressed and upset about how it went. BUT, 9 HEALTHY EGGS WERE RETRIEVED! So, can I really complain?  The more eggs that are retrieved, the higher the chance of producing a baby in the future. So, nine is pretty good.

I wasn’t in pain before or after the procedure. I came around from the sedation and my mom was by my side. It’s an in-and-out kinda thing so I arrived that morning and was let leave by lunch time.

After the procedure, my boobs were really tender and my tummy was bloated. I had a little bit of spotting and some period-like cramps. They also didn’t need to take my coil out for the procedure which was great! I used lavender oil and some other natural remedies to help with these symptoms. I also kept well hydrated (or tried to) through the duration of this treatment and afterward, too. Another side effect was that I was extra sleepy some days so needed more naps than usual. For the most part, none of the side effects were nothing that I couldn’t handle at home or hadn’t been through before. Baths helped. Lavender helped. My hot water bottle and Netflix helped. BIG TIME.

Now, my feelings. If you remember the video that I did with Emma Lou, you will know that I claimed in it that I didn’t want children or to get married. If you haven’t seen that video, CLICK HERE. WELL, be careful what you wish for. You just might get it. When you actually find out that you CAN’T do something, your mind changes quite fast. I was a bit upset when I found out about the infertility. However, the same day that I found out about the infertility, I found out my cancer wasn’t terminal. So I was pretty relieved and willing to pay the price!

To be honest, I have always been really open to adoption. Why not give a child a home that does not have one? And because I have now gotten my eggs frozen, being infertile isn’t necessarily a huge thing- I can still have children and carry my own baby. It just won’t be in the conventional manner. There are so many options nowadays and so many different supports available. Sometimes, you aren’t even aware of them until you’re faced with something like this. But I am hopeful and happy that if I do decide I want children, I have many options. Whether I end up adopting, or having a surrogate, or carrying my own eggs or even having children at all is unknown. But I will have many options to choose from and I will be alive to make the decision.

I did worry that my value as a woman would be questioned. But as a feminist, I know that this was just my insecurity speaking to me. My value is not lessened just because I cannot naturally reproduce. I am still a hella strong, independent, smart and confident person that wants to help people whenever possible. I try to be kind. I try to be honest. I work hard. I am still me. I am still Jade. And nothing that may change about my body will change that. I’ve been learning a lot of lessons throughout this whole journey and they have not been easy to digest or pleasant to stumble upon. Luckily, I’ve been accepting them quite fast because things haven’t necessarily been going at a slow pace. I’ve had to accept things in order to move onto the next stage and keep up. I have a feeling that when everything is over and done with, I’ll crash. But for the moment, I’m in fight mode.

I’m currently ongoing my radiotherapy. After four more weeks of daily treatment, I’ll have a little break and then my surgery will be planned. I’m sorry guys but I’m still not ready to talk about the surgery. Many of you thought that the permanent effect of the surgery was infertility and that that was what I was so upset about. Unfortunately, infertility is only the tip of the iceberg. Parts of my body around that area will probably be damaged beyond repair, leaving me with permanent repercussions that I am just not ready to speak about. I know in time I will be open and hopefully strong enough to share it all and maybe help somebody else. Maybe this could make me or be some kind of sick silver lining. But right now, I’m taking it a stage at a time.

So to recap: I have been told that I am now, due to my radiotherapy, infertile. However, I have had my eggs frozen and have that, along with other options, as a positive outcome. I have started radiotherapy and am fine. I’ve had a little bit of sickness but am being looked after well and kept a close eye on in St. Luke’s. I will be having surgery that will possibly change my life but I am not ready to open up about that just yet. I hope that when it happens, I will be strong enough to help someone else by sharing my experience. But for right now, I’m focusing on keeping myself as strong as I can through radiotherapy.

If you would like to actually know how the scientific elements of IVF treatment work, CLICK HERE.

And also, a little disclaimer: just because I have had my eggs frozen it does not mean that my eggs are suitable for fertilisation. They will be stored until I decide otherwise and if I do ever decide to match them with sperm, it might not work. I am aware of this and was informed of this before I started any treatment.

And I just want to say a huge thank you for all of the kind messages and support online. As well as a huge thank you to my family and friends who have been looking after me and keeping my spirits up on a daily basis. I will be forever grateful.

So, as usual, if you have any more questions please feel free to get in touch via Instagram or messages below!

Sending you so much positivity and love,

Jay xx

CLICK HERE for my Instagram

Email jadeshannonmccann@gmail.com for business enquiries.

 

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My Cancer Diagnosis: From The Beginning To Now

My Cancer Diagnosis: From The Beginning To Now

If you didn’t already know about this, I’m sorry to shock you and I’m sorry if we are friends and I haven’t gotten around to telling you. I’ve been in a state of complete shock and ‘fight-or-flight’ for the last two weeks. But basically, as the title suggests, I have cancer. And no, you aren’t confusing me with my Dad because he has it, too. This blog post will clear up most of your questions, I hope. But of course, contact me on my Instagram page if you’ve any more and I will do my best to get around to them. Click here for my Instagram.

I suppose a large extent of the shock has worn off and I’ve begun to accept that some kind of twisted, unfair fate has landed me with a pretty hefty cancer sentence. But that doesn’t make the process any easier.

As you all know, Dad was diagnosed about four weeks ago with Stage 4 Prostate Cancer. His treatment has begun and his prognosis is good. He’s currently undergoing hormone replacement therapy, then he’ll go on to radiotherapy and chemotherapy (the order is unknown as of yet). But we’re looking at a long year for his recovery and with a bit of luck, his remission starting at about Christmas time, hopefully sooner. His spirits were relatively high, of course, until we found out about me.

Basically, and I’m going to be very basic and brief in all of this, I found a lump on the left wall of my vagina (which could be also felt in my groin area) at the end of December 2017. This was around the time that Melanie’s Blog Life (a beautiful Irish blogger that I follow) launched a campaign for all of her female followers to check their areas and encouraged people to get smears. I followed suit, gave myself a check and ran a similar campaign on my Snapchat. You might remember it.

Following the finding of the lump, which at this stage was about the size of a small marble and firm, I went to my GP who advised me that it was a Barthalion’s Cyst. Apparently very common in young women and that it would go away and I would be fine. I was prescribed antibiotics. After a week, nothing changed. In fact, the lump grew. So, I went straight out to Holles Street as an outpatient (Ireland’s National Maternity Hospital- also known for their gyno unit) for further investigation.

Long story short, following months of tests, many conversations with many nurses and doctors, and antibiotics that did not work, nobody could figure out what it was. Under the belief that it was probably the cyst that was mentioned before, I was operated on and a biopsy was taken. I was called back in to the hospital a week later and told that what they found was, in fact, sinister. I was then diagnosed with a very rare type of cancer called Sarcoma. Trust me to get the rare one.

Understanding Sarcomas are difficult because there are over 50 different types and all require different treatments. And what I’m about to tell you is nothing I’ve found online because I’ve really done my best not to google anything. I’m basing my knowledge on what my oncology team have told me- which is particular to my case.

I have been diagnosed with a type of Sarcoma named Leiomyosarcoma, which is really unlikely to happen to someone my age. It normally happens to women a lot older- in their 50s or 60s. Sarcomas generally develop in tissue, bone or blood. The type that I have develops on smooth, soft tissues. For example: the bowel area, the womb and the vaginal walls. I know this is a lot of information but bear with me.

For the most part, it looks like it’s been caught in time. The MRI shows that, although it is in a delicate area, it is still regional. This means that it basically, based on the tests we’ve done so far, they reckon it hasn’t spread. Which hopefully means that a major surgery will be planned, possibly some radiotherapy and probably no chemotherapy.  However, this is not a concrete plan. My treatment plan is yet to be decided, there will be more tests undergone and I will have to have more scans. This is just what we’ve been told is the likely route that will be taken. And although this sounds like a positive outcome on a terrible situation, there are extreme, permanent side-effects that will come with this treatment plan. I will more than likely be left infertile, for one, and there will probably be difficulties around me using the bathroom and a plan will be needed to put in place there. This is what was discussed at this morning’s oncology meeting which is why I am in shock all over again and finding it a bit hard to process things right now. To be honest, I’m actually extremely devastated. I was a lot more positive over the last week because, me focusing on the positive, I was coming around to the idea that I might get away scott-free following some treatment, but apparently not. I will talk more about this when I come out of shock and feel more comfortable with it. Obviously, the region that the cancer is in is a bit uncomfortable to talk about anyway but for the purpose of awareness, I don’t really give a fuck about my dignity anymore.

Sarcomas generally travel or jump to the lungs or chest if they have jumped or moved at all. So I had a CT scan this week and it was discussed at my meeting this morning with my oncologist. There are markings there that need to be further investigated. If it comes back that they are sinister, I will probably need chemotherapy. Again, not set in stone but something that has come up in conversation. As I said above, for the most part, they reckon that it hasn’t spread.

To say that I am terrified is an understatement. When I first got diagnosed, the shock was absolutely unbearable. At just 22 with the world at my feet, how could this happen to someone like me? I’ve never even broken a bone. I had no idea how to react. I was just absolutely heartbroken and terrified. Especially because for the first week, I had no idea whether or not it had spread or whether or not I would live.

At this stage my fear is not around life or death, but rather how the treatment will affect my life both when I’m going through it and after it. I wish I could just jump ahead of time to when I am on the road to recovery. At the moment, everything is up in the air, the treatment plan is still yet to be decided and I’m just praying and hoping it will be effective but with the least amount of pain.

If you haven’t already guessed, I am no longer moving to New York in June. Hopefully in a few months, maybe in a few years. But for the moment, I have moved home to my parents and am waiting to undergo treatment and get well. For the most part, I was feeling positive. I’m taking this as a sign from the universe (or something) that I need to slow down and focus on myself for a while, really get well and tune into my health. But as mentioned above, my meeting today has knocked be a bit off whack.

I know in a few days that I will come around, once again, from the shock and that I will be feeling positive all over again. I also just want to take this opportunity to thank each and every single soul that has been there for me over the last few weeks. THIS INCLUDES the followers that have written in and sent love, positivity and heartfelt messages. Of course, my family who’ve rarely left my side. People have been so kind and really just reached out in so many ways, too many to count. It really is true that at times like these you find out who your friends are, your true friends. People that I never thought would be close to me have stepped up and provided simple things like a bit of company, or support at meetings. And unfortunately, some friends that I’ve known my whole life are nowhere to be found.

I am trying my best to turn this whole experience in to that of a learning one. I have also gone back to a 100% plant based diet, which has been scientifically proven to fight and prevent cancers and other diseases. I’ve been sharing my meals on Instagram if you’re interested, actually. I also want to raise awareness around this. Because in all my research, I have found that there are actually other people my age that have been diagnosed with sarcomas. Although they are not generally linked with youth, it is becoming more common. I found a guy my age down in Cork that has written a blog post about HIS sarcoma diagnosis and although it’s a different story to mine, it’s equally as important for awareness purposes. CLICK HERE to read his story. (It’s not too long, he gets right to the point!)

So if you take anything more than the gossip away from this post, let it be this: just because you are young, does not mean that you are immune to things like this. Do you want to know what my main regret was the moment my consultant said cancer? The amount of time I spent working toward getting it. All of the alcoholic drinks, party drugs, sun-beds, cigarettes, the amount of time I spent WORRYING and STRESSING about things that don’t actually matter. The damage I let my body undergo, always assuming that ‘something like that wouldn’t happen to me’. I’m not saying that these things caused my disease, but I sure felt like a gobshite wasting time on them when I could have been traveling, exploring, laughing, eating good food and hugging people for longer.

And if I have to be an example to save someone else’s life, so be it. But please do not cross yourself off like I did. If you find something strange on your body, get it checked. Do not stop until you get a solid answer and diagnosis or the problem has been entirely resolved. If you are smoking, eating unhealthily or abusing your body in anyway, rethink why and maybe try work toward a more positive outlook on life. Or you can wait until your diagnosed with cancer (or something worse) like I did, and feel like a total nob-head all together.

And if you are a model of health, that doesn’t cross you off either. Of course, you should be incredibly grateful that you are healthy, fit and on the ball. But unfortunately these diseases don’t discriminate. One of the questions I had for my consultant was whether or not it could have been inherited, seeing as though Dad has had cancer twice and is currently fighting, too. The answer was no. Sarcomas are random. There is no reason and it is not fair. So just be really mindful of your body, get checked regularly and be persistent if you really feel that something could be the matter.

Also, people seem to think that once someone is diagnosed with cancer, they are  a complete write-off and sit like a skeleton in the bed. This is not true. I am fit and healthy and in no pain whatsoever. Which is the annoying part because I had no idea I was as ill as I am. All I can say about my physical state is that every now and again, I get a bang of fatigue that leaves me horizontal within minutes. This has been happening for a few months but I put it down to working mad hours and being stressed with college.

Oh, but on the bridge side, it looks like I might graduate on time! I’ll need a few extensions on projects and some things will have to be moved around, but for the most part, I should be graduating in September.

So, I tried to fit as much of an update in there as I could. Of course, my head is absolutely fried and I’ve just been sitting beside a salt lamp and dosing myself in Lavender Oil hoping that some God might appear to tell me it was all a lesson and I’ve been magically healed. I know that’s not going to happen, though, so I am living moment to moment, constantly praying for the best outcome. Spending as much time at home and with positive people as possible.

Tomorrow morning, I have a 6am start with The Happy Pear for training- which generally is yoga, flexibility or a sea swim. Although the cards are stacked against me, we all know how tough I can be. So even though I don’t feel like leaving my bed, I’m going to. Because this is not going to win. I might be left with some life changing effects but my mind will still be the exact same. I will still show up and do my best. I will still find humour and strength in even my darkest days. Because if I even consider letting this take over my mind, you can put your money on it that my body will follow. So although I don’t feel like swimming in the sea at six in the morning, I will because I know sea water is healing. And I know The Happy Pear crew are positive people that do not judge and want to help me. Although I would rather a McDonalds and an easter egg, I’m going to eat seaweed and spinach because it provides me with an opportunity to fight this. Although I would rather cry into a pillow and cuddle my dog until this all goes away, I have to show up at hospital appointments with courage and trust my oncology team enough to do their job and save my life.

I understand everybody has a lot of questions, as they’ve all been booming on my social media accounts and I totally appreciate that. I am doing my best to reply to them all and stay on top of emails etc. However, on bad days my phone is being turned off. And as much as I love blogging, my health comes first. Awareness campaigning, blogging, sharing, posting… there will be time enough for that when I am on the road to recovery and feeling much better.

Thank you so much, again, for all of your love and support. My Instagram is getting updated, for the most part, DAILY at the moment. So if you don’t follow me on there, my username is ‘jaydamccannx’. I reply to all messages and post Instastories too. And believe me, considering my current situation, they are mostly positive!

So to confirm: Yes, I do have cancer. Yes, they reckon it is treatable. Unfortunately, there will be an aftermath of the surgery that has to take place, we don’t know exactly what that is yet. Yes, my Dad also has cancer. Right now my life is on hold. But I am trying my best to keep positive and get on with daily things in order to keep myself sane.

Sending you all my love,

J xx