Archive for the ‘Cancer And Fertility Journey’ Category

All Systems Are Go!

Saturday, September 11th, 2010

So exciting!

Yesterday morning, I went to my cancer followup for a colposcopy and biopsy.  The doc said everything looked perfect on the surface, and that the excision site had healed up great.  I’ll probably get the results of that in the next couple of weeks, and they will book me for another check-in, probably around March next year.

Yesterday afternoon, Frank and I met at the fertility clinic and the ball really got rolling!

They seem to have lost my blood test, but are simultaneously sure that they must have seen it, and it must have been fine, or they wouldn’t have booked the appointment.  We learned that Frank is pretty much a zygote machine… apparently when they’re counting up motile sperm, they want to see something like 8 million per millilitre, and our boy Frankie had about 13.  Go Frank!

The doc was a bit put out that had a biopsy that morning, as he needed to do a little test that could cause bleeding, or be painful… he wanted to make me come back & do it another day, but I pouted and convinced him I was a tough chick, so we went ahead.  And in fact… it really wasn’t a big deal.  They did a “mock transfer”, where they take a teeny tiny little catheter, like the one they will use on the Big Day, to measure how long a hose they need to get the egg put in the right place.  Apparently I’m an “85-er”.

While they were in there, they did an ultrasound to look at my ovaries.  Lucky for us, I was at a perfect spot in my cycle to see some nice fat follicles doing their thing, and he counted a good number of them in each ovary.  So everything looks great!

After seeing the doc, we spent about an hour with the nurse, going over the nitty gritty of hormone treatments, risks, the pros of cryopreserving unused eggs, and the “schedule” once we get going.  We have a mountain of reading material to get through, a pile of consent forms to sign, and a bunch of drugs to research.  Did you know we can collect Airmiles on our follicle stimulating hormone purchases?  INSANE.

The wackiest part of the day was being told that the schedule is totally up to us now.  We’ve done all the prep work, and we can start as soon or as late as we want, and we don’t even have to check with them first.  So, Frank and I are discussing the options, and deciding when to start.  Apparently the clinic closes over the holiday, so I can’t start in December, but starting at my very next cycle (this month), would put my hormone injections & monitoring at the same time as I’m trying to final a project at work… probably not a good idea.  I don’t really want to wait until the new year – I really want to get it going ASAP, but I’m leaning on starting on my October cycle.  We’d know by Christmas if it worked!

Here’s how it goes:

They gave me a prescription for my first hormone: an inhalant that will essentially help keep all my eggs in the basket (it suppresses the release of eggs from the ovaries).  On day 21 of whatever cycle I want, I start taking it daily, and when I’ve done that for about 12 days, I call them to say I’m ready for the next part….and then I just COME IN.  No waiting for an appointment, no scheduling, no nothing.  I just call, show up that day, and a nurse will show me what to do next.

That next step is to take a self-administered FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) injection for a number of days.  This drug simulates the hormone my brain would normally produce that tells my ovaries to ripen an egg for ovulation.  I’ll be taking very large doses of this, so my body will (hopefully) ripen many, many eggs, and the inhalant drug will prevent them from being released until the right time.

As there’s some nasty things that can happen with artificially ripening eggs, I will need to be monitored regularly for about a week, while I take the FSH.  Also, I was warned that an epic PMS may accompany this process.  I apologize in advance for my impending insanity 🙂

They will determine exactly the right day to give me an HCG injection (human chorionic gonadotropin), which will trigger the ripening eggs to mature.  About 2 days later, they will do the egg retrieval (under conscious sedation), and then the exciting part starts: The birds & the bees will do a little dance in a petri dish, and in three days, the doctors will choose the best two or three embryos to put back.  And two weeks after that, we’ll find out if it worked!

So, it’s all finally happening and we’re getting pretty excited 🙂

Hurrah!

Postponed

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

Just got a call from the fertility clinic… they need to postpone our appointment.

The funny thing? Once again, they have chosen to book me on the same day as a cancer follow up, hahaha.

So instead of August 24, we will see both the cancer doc & the baby doc on September 10, right after I get back from Burning Man.

Double Tap

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Booyah!  Cancer doc & fertility doc, all in one day – DONE!

Cancer Appointment

Cancer doc visit was short – so short they probably shoulda just called me instead of making me go in… but whatever.  Mostly they just wanted to make sure that there was nothing fishy going on since the last LEEP, and to make sure I was booked for another followup, which I am (September 10), and to give me an opportunity to ask questions.  I didn’t really have any, other than: Is there anything about this stuff that I should relay to my fertility doctor?  Apparently all he needs to know is that I’ve had “two LEEPs for microinvasive cervical cancer”, and he can take it from there.”

She said they’d keep an eye on my cervix for a while (like a year or two), to make sure I’m still clear, and in the meantime, good luck with the babies.

After a breakfast break and a bit of time killing, I met up with Frank & we headed to the fertility clinic, which was awesome.

Fertility Appointment

We’ve got the same doc as we had a few years ago, a good-natured Brit that likes to grin & wink.  He totally didn’t give me shit for being frustrated and not following up back then, in fact he blew it right off, saying “totally understandable”.  He gave us the straight dope on statistics & whatnot, and we were totally in agreement on going straight to IVF.  The fact that we’ve gone seven years with no apparent pregnancies means our chances of natural conception (per cycle) is about 3%, or LESS.  With a clomid-style drug therapy, we’re still looking at only 10-20%, tops.  IUI, maybe 30%.  IVF, 40%, maybe better.  He said he’d recommend the IVF to us based on how long we’ve been trying, even if we weren’t concerned about the cancer coming back, so it was great that we were all on the same page.  I asked about the LEEPs potentially weakening my cervix (as I’d read about that), and he said no worries.  Apparently he’s been treating a woman who had 2 LEEPs and then a trachelectomy, (means she doesn’t have a cervix at ALL) and they’re gettin’ her pregnant anyway – so yeah.  Totally doable as long as the genetic material plays nice together.

So, we’re officially on the fertility treatment train as of today.  We’ve got a couple of basic tests (blood & swimmers) to do first, and then a mandatory IVF counselling session.  As the doc said, “as soon as we say IVF, Health Canada assumes we’re going to rip you off”.  The counselling is reported to the gov’t so that they know that we’re being attended to properly and everything’s on the up & up.

It’s not going to be cheap… we’re looking at about $7000 per attempt, and it’s possible that it won’t work the first time, so we need to be prepared for it to cost two or three times that.  I’m thinking about throwin’ a fundraiser 🙂

Man, it feels great to have all this finally underway!

uh – whoa

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

ok – how weird is this….

UBC just called back me back.  They booked me STRAIGHT to an appointment (no fill out this thing, send it back, get on a wait list… it must be because I have a file there already).

And it’s on the SAME DAY as my cancer follow up. (July 14)

Cancer at 11am, babies at 1pm.

Not complaining!  But – whoa man, that’s some serious synchronicity right there.

Yay! And Boo!

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Yay! I got a call this morning from the UBC Fertility Clinic, which means my GP finally sent the referral!

BOO! I was in a seminar and MISSED THE CALL!

But I called back & left a message… the voicemail of the receptionist-lady assured me that messages WILL BE  returned, so please leave one.

and, Yay! The doctor she cited in the message to me was the same doc I had the last time I went to the Fertility Clinic…. and last time they sent me a package I had to fill out & send back, which they didn’t do this time –

so maybe I get to jump the queue because I already have a file there?

FINGERS CROSSED.

Figures

Friday, June 18th, 2010

I called my GP the other day and guess what?  Yeah, she never sent my referral.  I figured that was the case before I even phoned, but I waited patiently and spoke gently to the nice receptionist as I listened to her click and shuffle and say “hmmm” a lot.  I don’t doubt that she’ll tell the doc that I called.  Whether the doc will do anything about it remains to be seen.  I think I’ll just call her every 2 weeks until I get my fucking package.

<grumble>

Good News

Monday, May 31st, 2010

My BCCA doc called this morning with fabulous news.  The results of my last LEEP (from May 11) are in, and everything looks fine.  No more cancer in the biopsy, so I’m good to go.  They still want to talk to me about future options, as I think they expect this to come back and we should have a game plan, but for now, it’s all peachy.

I’m booked for our discussion on July 14.  In the meantime, I need to go harass my GP, because it looks like she never sent in my referral to the UBC Fertility Clinic.  (Honestly, I’m starting to feel like it’s time for a new GP.)  Hopefully our next newsflash will be to say we’re booked in at UBC, and that we have some excellent plan underway 🙂

Hooray!

LEEP’d

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Everything went according to plan yesterday, and my second LEEP (the one that’s supposed to make me cancer-free) is now done.  Hooray!

For the most part, I was outwardly pretty relaxed about it, though internally I was feeling really impatient.  I was a bit concerned that my lingering cough would be a problem, as they don’t like to jam breathing tubes down your throat when you’ve got a respiratory issue.  But they checked me out & were confident that I was a-ok: no fever, no fluid in the lungs… just a tickly cough.  On the upside, the nurse that did my IV had magic-hands, and not only did I barely feel her do it, it hasn’t bruised at all.  Nice difference from last time, where I ended up with a massive bruise due to a painful (and gross) failed attempt.

I woke up in much more pain than last time.  It’s sometimes really hard to even identify what the pain is, or where it’s coming from when you first wake up… you just feel bad.  The nurses are great about it though, and have a pretty good idea of what you’re feeling (in my case, sharp pains & cramping), so they’re all prepared to make you feel better.  Within moments of me complaining about the pain, they had dropped a cozy hot blanket across my belly and had dosed me full of amazingly fast acting, really strong, happy-land painkillers.

Frank brought me home, made me tea & a bowl of soup, and I updated my FB status to let folks know I was ok, and then I hit the sack.  I slept pretty much all day.  I had somewhat bad dreams, probably fallout from the leadup anxiety &  the painkillers, but otherwise felt ok but loafy.

I’m still feeling sluggish today, and a bit of pain, but little enough that conventional painkillers will be fine.  I’m going to lay low today, and probably be back to work tomorrow.  It will take a few weeks for the wound site to heal fully, but that has nearly no impact on one’s feeling of well-being.  I’ll be checking in with the doctor in a couple of weeks to see what they say about yesterday’s procedure.  He sounded confident that this should take care of it, so I’m going to run with that & consider myself healthy.

Yay!

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Well that was a nice surprise!

I got a call from the BCCA today telling me my LEEP is scheduled for Tuesday May 11 at 10:30am – WAY sooner than I expected based on yesterday’s confusion.  That makes me pretty happy!

I’m also happy that they booked me for a general anaesthetic just like last time.  I know it’s overkill, because really these procedures take almost no time to do, but I’m very twitchy and anxious, and need to be sedated/unconscious for this stuff or it’s just a hellish experience for everyone.  When I last discussed with the doctor, I agreed to try a local with sedation, but I’m actually really relieved that they’re just opting to knock me out.

Frank will be my ride & take care of me while I recover.  The immediate recovery (from the anaesthetic & whatnot) is very quick and fairly painless… a day or two of loafing and I’ll feel fine.  The wound will take 4-8 weeks to heal, but it’s not very noticeable or painful at all during that process.

The only downside is that the date collides with a nice social/dinner plan that was booked for that evening, but it’s worth rescheduling so that I can get the surgery over with.

Wish me luck!

Waiting

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Well, that’s annoying.

I was pretty sure the doc said they’d call me with my next LEEP surgery date, but they’ve never taken this long to get back to me before.  I wondered if maybe I heard wrong & I was actually supposed to call them to get the date.  As it’s been nearly two weeks since my pre-op discussion and I hadn’t heard back yet, I decided to call in & see if I was supposed to be waiting, or calling, or what.

Blessings on the receptionist, who was clearly confused but still patient and helpful….and blessings on me for not saying “WTF?!”  Apparently, she couldn’t find any note anywhere indicating that I was supposed to have another surgery, and she can’t book me without a directive from the doctor, so now I have to wait.

She’s  gonna call me back “probably next week” she says, so that’s going to push my surgery to later than expected.  They’d originally said mid-May, but with this time loss, I’m probably looking at early June.  Hopefully it won’t collide with when Frank’s out of town 🙁

…grumble