THE BLOG

Coping With Infertility After Cancer Treatment

23/12/2015 16:01 GMT | Updated 22/12/2016 10:12 GMT

Earlier this year, I was diagnosed with womb cancer. I had spent six years trying for a baby, including four years of failed fertility treatment. I had been due to start another round of IVF when tests indicated a problem which turned out to be cancer.

Doctors told me my best option was to have a hysterectomy to remove my womb, cervix and fallopian tubes, leaving my ovaries for health reasons.

I was young to have developed womb cancer, so it came as a shock.

I had the hysterectomy on 2 July, and the following week I was called into the hospital for the results of the biopsy. They told me it had spread further than they thought, as they found cancer cells in my cervix. This meant it may have spread to my lymph glands too and further around my body.

I had to go in for another operation on 14 July to move my ovaries up so they wouldn't be damaged by the radiotherapy. At the same time the surgeons removed the lymph glands to do a biopsy on them. The operation was successful so I began radiotherapy, which finished in September.

I had a recent follow up appointment and there were no detectable signs of cancer, so that was such a relief.

Although I have been a little sore and very tired from the side effects of the treatment, it's very much the loss of our ability to conceive that I am still finding harder to come to terms with, rather than the cancer itself.

I have a wonderfully supportive husband, family and group of friends, the specialist cancer nurses at St Michael's hospital in Bristol, along with the oncology team at the BRI in Bristol, have been fantastic, as have the Macmillan cancer support team, so I am extremely lucky.

I know I am very blessed, and I feel a great deal of shame to not be thankful for the things I have in my life that I should be grateful for, but I am still struggling to be at peace with the loss of being able to carry a child, or being able to give my husband I have been with for 14 years a baby.

We are getting through these tough times, and the ongoing support from groups such as The Eve Appeal, Womb Cancer Support UK and The Dovecote Community have been invaluable. I just wanted to champion these groups and hospitals that have been so kind, caring and supportive throughout this time.

Before my diagnosis, I worked full time for an insurance company where I have worked for 12 years. The hope of having a baby kept me working hard, knowing I'd one day soon be able to go on maternity leave and raise the children I had always wanted.

Years of trying for a baby have been hard on my marriage, and despite fertility counselling and plenty of support, it had an impact on my mental health.

Things are still tough and we are receiving clinical psychology sessions from the Bristol Royal Infirmary which we are grateful for. At present it feels as though life is at a standstill, things are still sinking in.

I have just returned to work on a phased return, and am taking things slowly. It has been good to have some routine back, and my work place have been fantastic and have provided great support.

My husband and I have recently moved house and are putting our focus and energy into making it a home. Right now we are spending some time getting to know the pre-cancer, pre-fertility "us" again, with the hope of looking at alternative ways to start our family in the near future.

I am supporting Cancer Research UK's campaign to beat cancer sooner. Cancer is happening right now, and you can do something to help right now. Visit cruk.org to find out more.

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