The Relief of a Phone Call
Out of the blue in 2007 around 6 months after my diagnosis and being taken off Imatinib and waiting to go onto Dasatinib, I had IVF treatment to store my eggs, as the impact of Dasatinib on fertility is not known, and obviously, they can’t do a clinical trial to see what happens.
Fertility and cancer
Having to go through IVF came as a shock, as I was told that on Imatinib my fertility wouldn’t be impacted. After seeing the fertility consultant for the first time and due to the timing of my cycle, I had 2 days to make a really big decision: eggs or embryo storage. And I had to make it on my own. I went to my appointments on my own because obviously, I didn’t want to talk about sex, periods and children in front of my parents when I was 22.
I was put under huge amounts of pressure by the consultant to have embryos frozen because of a higher success rate of turning them into a live baby. But, I was single then (still am) and didn’t want to have a stranger’s baby. Ironically, I might end up doing that. The next 2 years will tell. So, I was strong and said eggs. And then the treatment started. Oh and I was told it was going to cost around £6,000, so my parents had to borrow the money. I know we are lucky in the UK with the NHS but this came as a shock. I was told it was part of my treatment, so why did I have to pay?! I was too naïve and in shock about the entire process to question this. So I said ok, and spent around £3,000 on hormone injections over the next few weeks.
On the day of the egg harvest, I wasn’t asked to pay for the balance, which I thought odd, but kept quiet assuming a bill would arrive. It never did.
When I got my first letter with the storage fee, I mentioned it to my haematology consultant who said I shouldn’t be paying because it’s part of my treatment so the NHS would cover it. So I applied for funding for 10 years and it was granted. I have never approached the fertility consultant to ask them why he treated me as a private patient when he KNEW that it was part of my cancer care. I think they did it because I look and sound like I have a lot of money. Appearances can be deceiving. Part of me thinks I should ‘go after them’ and get that money back. But, I have my eggs. So is it really worth it?
10 years later
Unbelievably, this year I got another letter as the 10 years is up and I had to apply again. So much has changed with the NHS and I was worried that it would no longer be covered. I worried that I would have to find the money to pay for the egg storage, which of course I would if I had to. I went to see my GP to explain it all (I’m never there as other than my Leukaemia, I’m actually very healthy) and they said that absolutely it would be covered. I also explained how guilty I feel about how much I cost and that I hate the burden I am to the tax payer (of which I am one). They said I not to be ridiculous and of course, I shouldn’t feel guilty about a non-lifestyle induced disease. And they did the application for me.
Today, I got a phone call to say that my application has been accepted and that my egg storage will be covered for the next 10 years. The relief I feel is huge. And I also hope, with all my heart, that all of this will be worth it and I get to hold my baby in my arms one day soon.
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