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,
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