When Chemo Takes More Than Cancer: My Fertility Journey

“Everything looks great,” she said joyfully. “You have double the number of follicles that we consider our “safe baseline” for being able to become pregnant. We will check again 1 ½ years post chemotherapy beginning.”

That conversation took place 1 ½ years ago.

But have you ever been focused on something so deeply that you forget about something else? We have been conditioned to focus on two contrasting items: cancer or no cancer. On top of that, we had been highly advised to not try to become pregnant within the first 2 years after being sarcoma cancer free. So it had honestly escaped our thoughts.

Until this last visit.

The test for fertility popped up on my list of appointments and I couldn’t believe it was time to check that again. But after 13 scans, tests, and appointments were completed, all I wanted to do was sleep. As I was falling asleep in the chair I was sitting in, my phone rang…

I’ve been to enough appointments and scans over the past 2 years to know that when the conversation starts with positive words that aren’t related to results, it’s highly likely that the news I’m about to hear isn’t the best. And sure enough, that was the case again.

Wes and Nicole holding one another as the night falls. Photo by Quy Tran Photography

75% of my follicles had been destroyed by chemo. This positioned me at half the “baseline” needed in order to become pregnant. And once they are gone, they are gone for good.

“Shocked and exhausted” is a pretty rough combination. But there I sat in the lobby of the cancer center experiencing just that. Wes knew by the look on my face that the news I received on the phone had not been what I was hoping for.

He held me as I sat there and cried.

My mentor always told me that the distance between expectation and reality is disappointment. I don’t know why I unconsciously “expected” chemo to leave that part of me alone, but I did. And the gap between expectation and reality has left heartache. Heartache that I am certain many of us have felt.

Niciole looking at the camera with a serious face. Photo by Quy Tran Photography

I’m alive and cancer free, and trust me, I am so thankful! Yet in many patients, there are lifelong consequences to treatment. And we found ourselves face-to-face with another one just weeks ago.

Since receiving this news, I have conducted research and started conversations with women about issues surrounding fertility. The more I have these conversations, the more I learn how prevalent the struggle is. The replies are similar: guilt, shame, confusion, heartbreak, numb. I just wanted to write to you and tell you that you are not alone. And you are so tremendously loved and prayed for through this journey. God has a plan for your life and I believe with all my heart that He will love you and me every step of the way in this journey as He draws near to us.

Nicole looking in the distance as the sun has set. Photo by Quy Tran Photography.

Wherever God leads us in the future, we are trusting in Him. Even though it involves tears and heartache at times, we know that He has a plan for of our lives. And through the emotional ups and downs that we have experienced since hearing this news, we continue to turn to Him daily for healing and direction. And with conversations and prayer, we are experiencing love and peace in ways we never knew we could.

Chemo has taken more than I thought it would, but there are things that it simply cannot have: my faith, hope, love, the will to fight, the courage to carry on, the determination to battle daily pain, and the smile on my face from overwhelming gratitude. We are not alone in this journey and you are in our prayers.

Wes holding Nicole as she smile as the camera as the sun has set. Photo by Quy Tran Photography

God bless you!

Sparkle on,
Nicole Body

 

Do you struggle with fertility? This is a new area that we are facing, and I may not have all the answers and right things to say, but I am here if you need someone to talk to who understands you, for words of encouragement, or prayer. God bless you.

 

All photos in this post were taken by Quy Tran with Quy Tran Photography.

 

2 comments

  1. I know of one woman who was in a relationship, engaged…the fiancé stayed around for the treatment of ULMS, but then left in the end. It was heartbreaking for her and she found out that she too was no longer able to conceive…but God had a plan for this dear girl. She became a foster mother to babies and young children and a wonderful one at that. She is happier then I’ve ever seen her and a mother to so many who need love and shelter from the storms they are in. I am so proud of her and so thankful to God.

    Liked by 1 person

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