My Road to Pregnancy…A Childhood Cancer Success Story

I have known my whole life that I wanted to have kids when I grew up.  Thus, my road towards having kids began.  It was not yet known at the time how children would come into my life, but we know now. 🙂

My road towards pregnancy started out different from some people’s.  I say “some” because, did you know, according to statistics:

In 2014, it is estimated that 15,780 children and adolescents ages 0 to 19 years will be diagnosed with cancer and 1,960 will die of the disease in the United States.”

“About one in 300 boys and one in 333 girls will develop cancer before their 20th birthday.”


 

This is how my road started.
After being diagnosed with stage IV terminal cancer, and therefore signing on to become a guinea pig for scientists at Duke University in North Carolina, I underwent chemotherapy treatments with the highest dosages of cytoxan any child had ever received at any Children’s Hospital at that time.
Side note:  I just googled, “late effects of chemotherapy for those with childhood cancer,” and “infertility for childhood cancer patients,” so that I could learn more about it to shed some more light on the subject.  After only a few minutes of reading, I felt myself tearing up and becoming downright DEPRESSED, and I don’t like to subject myself to that!  If you would like to know more about the facts, look it up yourself! Haha!
So what I do know is anyone who has had the full-body-destroying chemo as I had is at an increased risk of infertility.  Unfortunately, given a higher dose than anyone else, they weren’t yet exactly sure what my chances were.  Furthermore, genetics always play a role in these things, and my own mother struggled to get pregnant with me for a year, and then had to have a hysterectomy.  But, there’s always a bright side, right?  My bright side was that I received all my chemo before puberty.  My doctor told me this meant I still had hope.  He has pretty much been telling me my whole life that I would have trouble getting pregnant, but that he would never completely discount something; I still had hope.
But, after about 15 years of my pediatric oncologist (I still see him every year in the long-term clinic) telling me these things, I had long since accepted adoption as my path in life to have children.  I have 3 wonderful adopted cousins, and cousins who are now wonderful parents to beautiful and great kids thanks to the adoption process.  They are my inspiration.  I had actually grown quite fond of the idea of adoption.  I mean, besides saving kids, I also had cancer.  I had the thought, “Can my genes really be that great anyway?”

My favorite nurse, Robbie, and me after she found out I was pregnant.  She was ecstatic 🙂
Dr. B and Me.  I said, “Did you ever think I’d be sitting here pregnant.”  He said, “No.”
So then, I met D.  After meeting the man of my dreams, who was everything I thought a person should be and more, I just wanted to know if I at least had the chance to replicate him into tiny humans.  It was something I thought about the whole time we dated, and I told him upfront about my potential fertility issues.  He continued to pursue me anyway! 🙂

We got engaged 2-4-12, and when I finally graduated and moved to Cali in 2012 to be with him again, I began my search for an OBGYN based on ones who were close in proximity, highly rated, and also specialized in fertility.  I found a WONDERFUL female OBGYN in Mt. View, who I was sure was going to help me through this process…eventually.  D and I weren’t even married yet, but I was thinking about our future. 🙂  Once D and I were married on 10-11-12, my mind immediately came back to the subject of my possible infertility, and I decided to make an appointment with my doctor to be tested for fertility.  I wanted to know if D and I had a window for having a child ourselves, and of course, what exactly that window looked like.

When my test results came back, D came with me to the appointment, and she was able to tell us two things:
1. Half of my egg supply had been wiped out by the chemo.
2.  Every month, a woman usually has about 16 eggs that go through the selection process until 1 egg is selected for possible fertilization.  I have about 2-3 eggs going through this process every month.

At that point she looked at us, and said, “My advice?  Don’t wait.  If you want to have kids, don’t wait.”

Despite expecting this my whole life, we were shocked.  (Much like learning later that there were actually TWO babies growing inside me!)  We were living 2500 miles away from most of our friends and all of our families in a 4 bedroom house with 3 of our best friends.  We had only been married for a couple of months.  We had not yet had our big wedding celebration in Tahoe with all our friends and family.  We knew we wanted a family, but like all our other friends our age, we wanted to wait about 5 years and get a head start on our life goals before children, so that when we had children we could truly focus all our attention on them. 

“Uhhhhh,” my husband finally managed to get out.  “When you say, ‘don’t wait,’ do you mean like another day or another year?”
       

The doctor encouraged us that based on the results, it was not in our best interest to wait at all, but we begged her for an actual time frame.  She took my age (25) into consideration, and said if we were not pregnant within a year, we should come back to begin fertility treatments.  

We needed time to process and discuss.  With having 3 roommates at our house at the time, we went to a Chinese buffet with paper and pen and laid it all out on the table.  We made a list of our goals in life.  Then we looked at the list differently for the first time, and decided whether or not we could accomplish those things with kids in our life.  We decided there was nothing on the list that we could truly be held back from by having kids.   It was an exciting and scary moment at the same time.  
 
We picked some things off the lists that seemed would indeed be easier to accomplish without kids, and we began working on them immediately.  We figured the road ahead towards getting pregnant would probably be a long one, so we had time anyway.  D got to work becoming the co-founder of a company, and I began training for my first full mountain marathon, The Big Sur Trail Marathon.  I signed up and paid to run it on September 28th, 2013.  I got really into the training.  I recruited for myself multiple unofficial running coaches, bought new marathon training tools,  recruited multiple running partners at work and at home, and made sure everything about my body was running smoothly.  Good nutrition, ample sleep, and lots of scheduled and calculated training.  I was in the best shape of my life, and the healthiest I have ever been.  About halfway through the “marathon” training, on a normal after-work run one day, I noticed myself feel extremely sick and almost like fainting after only the first mile on a flat surface.  Low and behold, I had been training for a different marathon all along.
This was taken about 10 days before my 1st pregnancy journey ended. 🙂

 

But, do you know what?  4 days after the birth of our sons, the gaming company D has been working on (Not Robot) was *officially* founded, and they will be releasing their first mobile game (Wave Crash) soon!  Additionally, 9 months after their birth, D and I completed our first half-marathon with their double jogging stroller in tow!  Are we going to go on to pursue our first full right now?  Who knows?  But, we have a good start. 🙂

My AMAZING husband ran hundreds of miles pushing this thing…and I ran a few. 🙂
This Half Marathon was the ‘Monster Dash,’ and had a costume theme.  Meet The Justice Family of America.

Our lives have gone on just as they were going before, but so. much. better. now.  We have much clearer priorities, direction, and motivation to accomplish the goals we set before ourselves.  (Not to mention the abundant giggles, love, and heart-melting. 🙂 )

  
P.S.  The title of this post should really be “My Guided Path Towards Pregnancy,” because I know God laid the whole thing out for us, and as you can see, he has been with me the whole time, guiding me, and holding the light during the times of darkness.

One thought on “My Road to Pregnancy…A Childhood Cancer Success Story”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *