"But I Wanted to Be a Mommy"

by Maimah Karmo

I never expected to hear that at the age 32 a doctor say I had breast cancer.  No one expects or wants to hear that they are now a statistic- someone with breast cancer - but when you are in the prime of your life and in the middle of your child -bearing years, it can be devastating.  
I found the lump when I was 31, had a mammogram, but was told that the lump was only a cyst, and I was "too young to have breast cancer".  I was given many reasons – “not to worry”.   Yet I remained insistent that something was “not right” and I strongly requested for a breast biopsy to be performed. It was then that I found out the unfathomable, as I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, and my life would be forever changed.  

Maimah and NoelleSo much to do including having to choose a surgeon, oncologist and radiologist, I had to decide on treatment options, follow up on insurance claims, work, make sure I had all my medications available and ready  before and after treatment, and all the while, making sure I kept up with my most important job of all...being a mommy to my then 3 year old princess.  It was hard and at times seemed impossible.

I always wanted to give my daughter siblings. I had taken for granted that I had more time.  While discussing my chemotherapy treatment with my oncologist, I learned that chemotherapy could cause irreversible menopause, and make me infertile.   My oncologist referred me to a physician who specialized in reproductive medicine and fertility.  There I learned that told   chemotherapy could damage my eggs, which could make my periods irregular or stop. In fact, I ran the risk of having infertility even if my periods resumed following treatment. So, I needed to explore fertility options, but what if they didn't work?   
So much to consider – including the possibility of not being able to have a second child.  I never thought I would have second- child infertility – and after my cancer diagnosis it was a real risk.  There were many other factors that I need to consider and fertility options (And, from what I understand my story is not all that unique and may resonate with readers of this blog.)  


What are fertility options for those who have had cancer?

Some may opt after cancer to not pursue parenthood.  Instead they may wish to be involved with mentoring children such as via volunteer organizations (such as with a Big Brothers, Big Sisters) or enjoy the company of their family and friends (and their offspring).  There are no right or wrong answers when one has cancer and is exploring fertility options. There are many resources and amazing fertility specialists who are able to help you explore what is best for YOU.  
Read more about fertility options for those who have a cancer diagnosis via  the HavingBabies.com website.

Look for breast cancer support groups in your area via this link.

Learn more about our guest blogger, Maimah Karmo and her work with breast cancer patients and survivors, also read her own cancer journey in her book titled, FEARLESS.