Cancer survivors hidden fertility heartbreak

Today, across the UK 34 young adults in their 20s and 30s will hear the news that they have cancer. 15% of them, or over 1,900 a year, will also have to learn that they have a high risk of future fertility problems because of their treatment. Cytotoxic drugs, radiation therapy, surgery, and the disease process itself can all cause infertility, which may be temporary or permanent.

I no longer have periods, lost my fertility, and am going through menopause – something none of my friends can relate to and a side effect that bothers me everyday.-(Young woman in the Trekstock network).

Trekstock, a cancer charity that supports young adults in their 20s and 30s to live through and beyond cancer, are teaming up with four fertility experts to shed some light on this often-ignored side effect of cancer treatment.

I’m struggling mentally about not being able to have my own children and seeing woman round me getting pregnant! (young adult in the Trekstock network).

If infertility is considered a significant risk, the NICE guidelines suggest that fertility options be discussed at diagnosis, and that cryopreservation of sperm for men and oocyte or embryo for women is offered. But this is not always happening. The postcode lottery means that many who should be given these opportunities aren’t. Furthermore, many people are left in confusion about their fertility after treatment. Healthcare professionals often rush through an explanation, ignoring the emotional impact, or worse, never talking about it at all.

I found out years later that I will not have children and there wasn’t really anyone to talk to (Young adult in the Trekstock network).

This Trekstock Talk, entitled ‘Thinking About Fertility’, aims to address many of the questions and worries that this group have. Questions will be sourced from young adults in the Trekstock network and will cover topics such as the emotional aspects of fertility, what to ask your doctor before starting treatment and what to do after your treatment ends.

Experts include Anya Sizer, author of the book Fertile Thinking and the Regional rep for the Fertility Network in London, Dr. Chana Jayasena, Consultant Reproductive Endocrinologist as well as a Lead for Andrology at Hammersmith Hospital, Monica Figuieiredo a Clinical Nurse Specialist for the nurse led fertility clinic at Hammersmith Hospital and Becki McGuiness, a member of the Trekstock network who was diagnosed with cancer in her teens and leader of the awareness campaign, The Vicious Cycle, which aims to ensure that women know the fertility options they have when going through a cancer diagnosis.

The panel will be live streamed at lunchtime on May 11th on Facebook page and will be available afterwards on the Trekstock website here www.trekstock.com. If you would like to ask any questions head here: trekstock.typeform.com/to/qPkqjA

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