Lisa always knew she wanted children someday. In 2010, when she was 32 years old, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The tumor in her left breast was rapidly growing and needed to be addressed immediately. Lisa immediately lined up multiple doctors’ visits, tests and procedures. Her sister advised her to think about her future fertility, as many cancer treatments can impact a woman’s ability to conceive. In addition to the enormous stress of her cancer diagnosis and treatment planning, Lisa quickly sought a local fertility clinic to help plan her future.
The first clinic she called did not come through. Even when she told them she was facing a cancer diagnosis, their first available appointment was three weeks away. But with her cancer treatment starting soon, Lisa didn’t have three weeks.
Lisa then called Oregon Reproductive Medicine (ORM), which has a “Fast Track” program specifically designed to help patients who need immediate help due to health crises such as cancer. Lisa was in the ORM office only two days later, talking with Andrea, a compassionate Nurse Practitioner. Days later, Lisa met with Dr. Bankowski to create her fertility plan. She would undergo harvesting and freezing of her own eggs, to use after her cancer treatments.
“Everyone at ORM was great. It’s a well-oiled machine. Everyone has a role and they all do their job well. It was such an overwhelming time. No one thinks that they’re going to need to freeze their eggs. But ORM had everything lined up. Andrea was there for me to provide emotional support and I really needed that. You can’t underestimate the power of hormones!”
After preserving her own eggs, Lisa started cancer treatments that included a double mastectomy, followed by chemo and radiation. Eventually, she had her ovaries removed after learning she had the BRCA1 genetic mutation, putting her at a 50-percent risk for additional breast and/or ovarian cancer.
In 2013, Lisa married her husband. They knew they wanted children right away, so within months, they went to ORM to start the process of thawing Lisa’s eggs. At first, things went well with some normal attrition rate on her 26 eggs. But the day that Lisa was scheduled to undergo transfer, she learned that none of them had survived.
“It was devastating. I was so sad that I wasn’t going to have the opportunity to have my own genetic children. We got through the holidays and then started talking about our options.”
Lisa and her husband went back to ORM and quickly decided to have a baby with the help of an egg donor. ORM’sin house Egg Donor Program has medically screened and highly selective, detailed profiles of donors.
“We could learn so much about the egg donors—their allergies, medical history, height, weight and so much more. I felt like we could make a good decision and also know things about the egg donor that we could eventually use to help our own children.”
Working closely with their ORM Patient Coordinator, Lisa and her husband selected a donor and from there, things moved along extremely well. They became pregnant with twins.
“I had a good pregnancy and carried the twins through 37 weeks. It all went really smoothly. Everything just fell into place.”
On October 30, 2014, the babies were born, healthy and beautiful. Today they are crawling, chatting with each other in their baby language and getting close to walking. As a new parent, Lisa is able to focus on the positive aspects of her fertility journey.
“Today, I’m thankful that we have our family and I don’t have the risk of passing along my genetic disposition for cancer to the kids. I would have had an empty space in my heart if I didn’t have a family. I’m so honored to be their mom.”