I Want To Grow My Family. But, Can I?

When lung cancer enters your life, it disrupts things you would never think of. When I was diagnosed with lung cancer, I had just turned 30 a few months earlier. I was dating someone for about a year. Things were going well. I didn't date much in my 20s and never really considered having children. I got married in 2016, just two years after being diagnosed with lung cancer. My husband and I came to terms with the idea that we would not have our own kids. We'd talked about the different ways to have a family, but none seemed a good fit for us.

A glimmer of hope - could I grow my family while having lung cancer?

In 2021, I was doing really well. I was working full-time, and life seemed like I wasn't living with lung cancer. I thought about the chances of my getting pregnant and, with my husband’s blessing, discussed this with my oncologist. She was open to the idea, and we discussed a few things that would have to happen. One of them was that I would have to come off the targeted therapy I was getting. She mentioned that she wasn’t sure it was doing anything for me anyways. From there, I was set up with an appointment to talk to an oncology fertility specialist.

Seeing an oncology fertility specialist

This appointment was a telehealth visit. It, unfortunately, ended with me in tears. I was told that the chances of me ever getting pregnant were very slim because of my age and treatment history. I had platinum-based chemotherapy in 2014, and that pretty much aged my ovaries. The way she told me was very nice, but the news itself was not what I wanted to hear, and I mourned the idea of never having children of my own a second time.

Time for a second opinion

I sought out a second opinion at a fertility clinic in Chicago. They had a plan for me, but it was very extensive. They didn’t say that I could not ever get pregnant, but they also were not very convinced that I could.

I decided to drop the idea of growing our family. My husband and I have chosen to be the best aunt and uncle to my sisters' kids.

A hard pill to swallow

Cancer affects us all differently, but there are some challenges that the young adult population faces that other age brackets do not. Our decision to have children just taken away from us is a difficult pill to swallow, even for someone who never really thought about having kids. It's hard to process something like this being taken away from you without much decisions making on your part.

The furry compromise

We added a new family member in 2019 in the form of a furry friend. My Yorkie passed away, and I knew I wanted another one. I researched (while trying not to get scammed) and found a breeder in a town about 30 miles away. I contacted her and put down a deposit. That April, we brought our Rizzo home, and he has faithfully sat by my side ever since.

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