Cancer and InfertilityMar 19, 2020
“I always knew that I wanted six kids so when I heard the words “you have cancer and you will never be able to have children” they came as such a huge shock, as they would to anyone.”
Craig was 32 when he was diagnosed with cancer and three months into a new relationship. He never expected to hear the words “you have cancer”, let alone “you won’t have kids”. When he thought about it more, his probable infertility became more of a dominating factor than his cancer disgnosis. He knew cancer could possibly be cured, but if he couldn’t have children, it would be a massive gap in his life.
Cancer can come along at any time in a person’s life and many people who are diagnosed with cancer usually have one goal: survival. But what happens when you have just received the devastating news that you have cancer and you haven’t yet started having a family, or are part way through having a family?
Unfortunately, most cancer patients in the child-bearing stage are not necessarily aware of the impact some cancer treatments can have on their ability to reproduce, until it’s too late. Medical Oncologist, Dr Fritha Hanning, recommends having a conversation with your oncologist straight away – even if it’s not the number one topic you want to be discussing.
A recent article published in the Sydney Morning Herald reported that infertility can affect between 30 and 75% of cancer survivors – whether it’s the cancer itself or cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy that cause early menopause or damaged reproductive organs, eggs or sperm.
Luckily for Craig he was told to bank his sperm “for his future and his legacy” and while this was difficult because of the stress he was under with treatment, he now has two beautiful children.
“Fertility isn’t a guaranteed process, there are plenty of people who haven’t had cancer who can’t have children. Cancer isn’t a barrier to having children, my advice is don’t let cancer stop you from having children - if there’s a fertility issue, deal with it, go and get the help you need to protect your ability to have children.”
Click here to view the Canopy TV episode on fertility.