The Campaign

Becki Illus-13

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**Illustration: drawn by alohalolacards.com especially for #CopingwiththebigC**

Thankfully I have now been in remission for 8 years but have to live with life long side effects. Early menopause is a hard one to deal with especially as the Gynecologist I had to see for HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) said they could have helped me, if only I had been originally sent to see her.

If only the hospital had a holistic approach for cancer patients.

I am officially launching a campaign for the awareness on #Cancer and #Fertility for all cancer patients called “The Vicious Cycle Campaign” and I’m also using the hashtag 💔 #HiddenHeartache 💔 because it’s something painful that’s hidden in society especially if you’re young and infertile. I want to raise awareness so women know the options available (as it takes longer to save women’s eggs and men usually get their fertility preserved, as it’s quicker) and asking to see a fertility specialist. I would prefer if all oncologists brought up the subject with every patient because for some patients it’s so traumatic finding out they have cancer that they might not even be thinking clearly enough or may forget to even ask about fertility and that’s why I believe they shouldn’t be putting this pressure on the patient to ask because they have so much to worry about already.

This is something I am really passionate about. I know it can vary throughout the UK for different women and I want my campaign to make sure there’s equal opportunities for all women and men regardless who their doctor is or area they live in.

I want the protocol to be the same for everyone in the UK rather than being hit and miss for patients or a postcode lottery.

I’m in contact with organisations like Create Fertility, British Fertility Society, Fertility Network (UK), Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, NHS England, National Institute for Health Research, The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), Cancer charities etc.

If you’re a cancer patient whose experienced this or was offered the choice then please get in touch privately ( email: copingwiththebigc@yahoo.com ) if you would like to share a quote about your experience. Don’t worry I can put you down as anonymous if you wanted.

A study by St Mary’s Hospital in Manchester says around half of female cancer patients aged 15 to 39 — roughly 4,000 a year — are infertile after their treatment.
Researchers estimate that around half would voluntarily choose not to use fertility preservation and half would want it.

Freezing eggs, ovarian tissue or an embryo created with a partner’s sperm acts as an insurance policy which may give them the chance to start a family later using IVF.
But in 2014 only 154 women had their eggs frozen — less than 4 per cent of the 4,000 who were left infertile.
And a further survey found that only a third of the women who did have treatment got it on the NHS.
The rest are likely to have paid thousands of pounds privately for the chance to be a mother.
Study author Dr Yazan Abdallah of the department of reproductive medicine at St Mary’s said: ‘Getting cancer is a misfortune, not a choice, and so fertility preservation must be available on the NHS. There is a big opportunity to inform and empower women — not ask them to pay.’

The research, presented to a British Fertility Society conference in Edinburgh last week and due to be published in the journal Human Fertility, says that 77 per cent of NHS fertility centres judge cancer patients on the standard criteria, despite NICE’s guidance.
It says another factor is that some patients or their doctors may be nervous about delaying the start of cancer treatment until eggs can be harvested. But the authors say this can take as little as 12 days if hormones are injected to stimulate ovulation.
The research, which has been supported by consultant Dr Raj Mathur, also shows a possible postcode lottery for funding, with London and the north-west over-represented among the 154 who had treatment.
Dr Cheryl Fitzgerald, consultant in reproductive medicine at St Mary’s, said: ‘There is a huge inequity. Men having fertility-damaging treatment are automatically referred to sperm banking.
‘For women, because egg freezing used to be less successful and because it’s a more invasive and time-consuming process, it’s not automatic.
‘The emphasis has obviously been on curing cancer, but with so many people surviving cancer, we need to look at improving the quality of life after treatment, including the chance to have a family.’ ” – Daily Mail article

Becki Illus-11

 

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