Sunday 24 February 2013

So what happened next?

Sorry for being a bit quiet of late but there have been a few things to organise and sort out ...

Many of my friends will know how upset I’ve been about not being able to take any steps, pre-chemotherapy, to try and preserve my fertility. It has caused me untold sleepless nights – especially as I now realise that, contrary to what I was told, I did ‘have time’ and that there were drugs they could have offered me to protect my ovarian function.

So while we can’t undo what happened a year ago, Mr P. and I do want to take issue both with the Primary Care Trusts and with Ealing and Charing Cross hospitals themselves; just to get it on record that we feel that we were given erroneous information.

The cynical part of me, also can’t fail to note that the procrastinations of Ealing Hospital in dealing with my diagnosis and treatment plan also brought me very close to the 31-day deadline by which NHS guidelines say that I needed to start my treatment (after diagnosis). So maybe it wasn’t actually me, that didn’t ‘have time’ … ?

Fortunately my GP has been very supportive and recognises the anxiety that this has caused me. The Royal Marsden too, has been very good in getting me referred to Queen Charlotte’s Hospital for fertility tests and allowed us to explore our other options.

Peas in a pod:
Clare and Katie
This is where my very lovely (and conveniently, identical twin) sister comes in. Because of the nature of my cancer, and the drugs that I am now taking, it is not feasible for me to take any hormone-based treatments. However, my sister has said that - subject to her being suitable with successful test results etc. – she would be willing look at the possibility of acting as an egg donor and letting us freeze some ‘options’ for potential future use.

This would obviously be a very generous thing for her to do. Egg donation is clearly a much more, ahem, ‘involved’ process than sperm donation requiring a month of hormone injections and essentially feeling like crap.

She’s already been down to London and spoken to our consultant, where he explained some of what would be involved and the timescales/potential costs. She’s also had a blood test and scan, the results of which we will get just after Easter (when she will be in London again).

There’s still an awful lot to be discussed before we know how far along this road we can go but it is an enormous relief to me to know that there are still possibilities that can be explored. In particular, my medical team at the ‘Marsden have arranged for me to speak to their Oncologist this week (Friday 1 March) to get a much better idea of whether or not I could ever be allowed to have a hormone-heavy IVF treatment. Moreover, I want to be sure that - given our identical DNA and my previous breast cancer (and her fibroadenoma) – I will not be putting my sister at any increased medical risk from a hormone treatment.

However, there have been some lighter moments this month. Mr P. and I are both really enjoying being back on stage and rehearsing for our next amateur play, the first that we’ve done together since the summer of 2011.

I also hosted a charity wine-tasting event for a number of my friends. Sarah at Window on Wine (and Tesco wine community blog(ger) of the year 2012) donated her time and expertise free of charge and took us through a variety of sparkling wines, which we learnt to ‘swirl, sniff and swig’ with increasing enthusiasm with each additional glass.

It also turns out that Phoebe (my cat) is quite the ‘party animal’. You’d think that fourteen loud, lairy, wine-swigging women would phase a little puss but, no, she worked that room like one of the girls.

All in all, it was a great night and we raised over £100 for the Institute of Cancer Research. Cheers, ladies!