The Story So Far…

Over the last few years I’ve periodically blogged about my health & fertility, and recently, Frank & I decided to create a blog specifically for it.  It can be a pretty heavy topic, and I don’t feel that weaving it into my standard daily blogspace is the right venue.  That said, we have many friends who want to be kept up to date, and it seemed having a separate, dedicated space was a good choice.  So welcome to our new blog, a space to focus on Team Roberts’ ongoing battle with (in)fertility and cervical cancer.

To catch you up….

Fertility, Part 1
Frank & I got married in 2002, and started trying to conceive shortly after.  After about a year of no babies, we talked to our doc.  We did a first round of basic testing (blood/hormone tests, sperm counts) which all turned out fine.  I also had a hysterosalpingogram, which is a rather unpleasant test that checks for blockages in the tubes.  This was also fine.  So the basic tests revealed nothing – we’re both perfectly healthy, sperm counts were excellent, my blood/hormones were doing the right thing at the right time & there were no blockages.  Despite both of us appearing to be perfectly normal, there was still no babies.

The next step was to take it to the UBC Fertility clinic, but time gets away, and I had anxiety about being poked & prodded, and we kept holding out for it all to just happen naturally.  During this time, we saw a naturopath and TCM (Traditional Chinese medicine) practitioner, did acupuncture & special diets/supplements, but again without any positive results (ie: still no babies).

Cancer, Part 1
In the summer of 2006, I had a pap that returned unhappy results.  My cervix was showing pre-cancerous cell changes that would require treatment.  In the fall, I received cryosurgery to remove the bad cells, which was an incredibly unpleasant experience, but the pre-cancer was gone, and we could get back on the bus to babyland.

Fertility, Part 2
This scare woke us up a bit, and through 2007, I did two things.  1) I spent a lot of money on my awesome psychologist.  We did a year of somatic/self regulation therapy to help me manage the anxieties that I knew would come with freaky medical pokey stuff.  2) I got on the horn to the UBC Fertility Clinic.  We repeated the blood/hormone & sperm testing (all still good), and in the summer of 2008, I underwent the dreaded laparoscopy and while I was under, they did a hysteroscopy too.  The hope was that they would see some reason why I wasn’t getting pregnant, but again, everything was perfectly normal.  No sign of anything wrong at all.  It sounds ridiculous to be disappointed by a “normal” result, but I had so wished that they would see something broken so that they could fix it.  With nothing to “fix” the options narrow down to two choices.  Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) or In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).  Both require a lot of poking, a lot of money, and I was angry at the universe and didn’t want to be poked anymore.  So I sulked into my cave to hibernate and didn’t act on anything.  I didn’t even call the doctor back after I recovered from the surgery.

Cancer, Part 2
I stayed in my cave for about a year.  In October of 2009, I had another pap return scary results; the cells were changing again.  These cellular changes were more severe and more widespread than last time, and I was referred to the awesome doctors at the BC Cancer Agency.  Instead of cryosurgery (a treatment that is no longer recommended in BC), they removed the bad cells via LEEP which allows them to retain the removed tissue for further testing.
I had the LEEP in February, and before I was fully recovered from it, the cancer-doc called to tell me that they found a “small cancer” in one place along the edge of what was removed, and that I would need further treatment.  Possibly another LEEP, possibly a partial hysterectomy, depending on how aggressive we wanted to treat it.

Frank and I have spent the last month talking seriously about what to do.  Of course, a partial hysterectomy would mean that I couldn’t carry my own pregnancy, if we ever succeeded in conceiving.  A more conservative treatment (at first) would buy us time to give IVF a shot, but that could also mean that the cancer could come back later, perhaps worse, perhaps during a pregnancy – both terrible scenarios.  We’ve heard all the horror stories, and we’re not interested in having me take a premature dirt nap, but we also didn’t want to give up on babies unless there really was no other choice.

And now you’re caught up.  Today was a big day.  Frank and I went to see the cancer doc this afternoon to discuss the treatment options for my “small cancer”.  We asked her the big questions about risk and whatnot, and of course she can’t predict the future, but she believed that doing another LEEP with the intention of preserving my fertility is a reasonable and safe option.  If I were older or not interested in babies, they’d recommend just taking it all out, but in light of our age and parenting goals, it’s reasonable to keep it in check with LEEPs for a little while.  That said, there’s realistically only so much flesh they can cut away, so if our IVF attempts fail and the cancer returns, then I think the writing will be on the wall for us.

Next Steps
I’ll be collecting another referral to the UBC Fertility Clinic from my GP, and in about a month (mid-May), I’ll be going for another LEEP.  Assuming that the LEEP goes well, the timing could work out that I’d be seeing the fertility doc by the time the next LEEP is healed, and we could be underway for IVF by late summer.  The only thing that could ruin the plan is if they get in there to do the procedure and they discover that it’s spreading or getting somehow worse enough that it would require a more aggressive treatment immediately.  But we’re going to hope that doesn’t happen. 🙂

Once the LEEP is done, and the results are showing me cancer-free, we’ll proceed with an IVF attempt.

In case you are terribly worried, please let me assure you that there have been heaps of progress made in the area of women’s cancers, and although this is of course, serious, it’s not going to kill me.  Cervical cancer is very treatable, and I have a lot of confidence in the good folks at the Cancer Agency.  Rest assured that we don’t plan to make any crazy decisions that would put my life at risk.

If you want to keep up, I’ll be posting here, with updates, notes, feelings… all that bloggy jazz.

Thanks for reading, for your love, your support, and for being the super-awesome beings that you are.
Hugs & stuff,
Crank and Flaire

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11 Responses to “The Story So Far…”

  1. Bebby Says:

    I think this is a great way to capture and record all these sorts of happenings. I’m learning lots of new terminology! You’ll always have my love and support, but you already know that.

  2. squishe)'(e Says:

    Oye, that was a big day yesterday…
    much love to you both and thank you so much for sharing, it helps all of us to be better humans. You are an inspiration!

  3. Jen Archer Says:

    I *heart* you both soooo much… and your adorable couple-ness just warms my soul! Turns out that Crank & Flaire blogging together is very sexy! Sending lots of love, light and strength your way on this journey!

  4. Arwen Says:

    I am glad that the visit with your doc went well. Let us know if there’s anything we can do to help.

  5. Corvetta Says:

    I am sending you all of my good thoughts! I hope the best for the both of you. <3

  6. jane Says:

    i have every confidence, too.


  7. Stripey Says:

    Thank You for including me in your updates. I am so grateful for having you both in my life. The BCCA is really great. They are wonderful folks with the utmost care and concern. I am looking forward to hearing the LEEP did it’s job and the IVF did, too. Much, much love & strength to you both. Yes, blogging together is not only sexy but damned awesome as well never mind just damned adorable.

  8. Amara! Says:

    I hope this blog is cathartic for the both of you. I admire your bravery and practicality in this. It’s great to hear there is a team of helpful, knowledgeable doctors helping you make the right decisions for you.

  9. normurai Says:

    thank you for edumacating me with your blog and for inspiring me with your love and courage. love and blessings to you, frank and claire.


  10. Nikki (Puss) Says:

    Wow, this is so inspiring and awesome. I’m sure it is a healthy outlet for all that is going on in your head! I have been through a somewhat similar experience, going through many procedures and doctors before I finally (and very thankfully!) managed to have 2 wonderful boys before I had the (total)hysterectomy. On a high note: while I was pregnant, I was healthier than I have ever been, both times, despite reverting to worse symptoms than ever in-between! 😀
    Despite being so long ago, 15 years, I still remember the heartache and frustration and anger that went with it, but I am here with my beloved family to remind you that it WILL be okay, and you will treasure the important things in life more than ever because of it! I am also amazed at the incredible advances that have been made in the medical field to do with both Cancer and fertility, and I wish you all the best! Great big hugs to you both!

  11. Eve Reid Says:

    Fertility Clinics really helped a lot in getting my wife to conceive a child. Just make sure you get a reliable one.~*.