What to Know about Fertility and Cancer

By Mélina Ladouceur on May 28 / 2019


A cancer diagnosis can bring up all kinds of emotions. It can rock someone’s world and have an intense impact their sense of safety and security. Once they’ve met with an Oncologist, most will start cancer treatment soon after. For those who are coping with a cancer diagnosis earlier on in life, it’s important to be aware that fertility preservation options are available prior to treatment, because for some, cancer can impact their ability to conceive or carry a child in the future.

What’s important to know is that fertility preservation options – like collecting and freezing sperm, eggs and embryos – is something that needs to be considered before starting cancer treatment. It’s something that many Oncologists are bringing up as a potential risk of treatment, but it’s not everyone who is told or who knows that there are things they can do if they hope to start a family in the future.

It’s an important conversation to have for many reasons, especially because it is time sensitive. You are a person, a whole person, not just a patient, and it’s important for you to be supported in the decisions you make. We know that cancer can impact various aspects of someone’s life, so taking some time to reflect on what your dreams may be for the future and deciding if that includes having a biological child or if it doesn’t, can help you in making a choice prior to treatment. Here are five things you can do if you are concerned about fertility and cancer:

1. Meet with a Cancer Coach. Talk it through. We are here to provide support, to help you make the right choice for you, and to help you connect to resources so you know what steps to take should you chose to pursue fertility preservation. Cancer Coaches can also help you with the other aspects of your journey – from helping you prepare questions for your first appointment with an oncologist, to managing side effects of treatment or focusing on lifestyle changes and wellness, to coping with loss or emotions such as worry, sadness and every other emotion in between. To meet with a Cancer Coach, you can visit our website at ottawacancer.ca and register for Cancer Coaching.

2. Talk to your Oncologist and ask questions. Your Oncologist can tell you more on the types of treatment they would recommend and if these treatments can have an impact or not on your fertility.

3. Contact the Ottawa Fertility Centre in order to learn more about your options for fertility preservation. Find out more at https://conceive.ca/. 

4. Find out about financial support to cover the cost of fertility preservation. Enquire about the Power of Hope Cost Reduction program through Fertile Future, a Canadian national non-profit organization that provides fertility preservation information and support services to cancer patients and oncology professionals. The Power of Hope program they run offers financial assistance to qualifying cancer patients, providing a substantial reduction in the overall cost required to pursue fertility preservation treatment.

5. Connect with other people facing cancer. Know that you are not alone. Many young people have been through this before and have faced these same questions about the future. Take care of yourself through this experience because it’s not easy, but life can continue after cancer, making it a difficult experience you go through, but then being on the other side of it and imagining life after cancer.

If you would like to know more about Cancer Coaching or sign up to meet with a Coach, please call 613-247-3527 or email info@ottawacancer.ca.


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