Easter Came Early

March 3, 2012

February was filled with decision making.

Choice of chemo cocktail?

Clinical trial?

To freeze or not to freeze?  (my eggs, that is.)

And in the midst of decision making… my family came to visit.  Family fun time was full of food, doctors appointments, food, movies, food and adventure.  My two favorite activities of the week were riding the tram up to the top of Sandia Peak and a journey to Chaco Canyon.  Here are pictures from both.


It was really great to see them.  And wonderful to (safely) hug my mom.

And while the fam was here, I decided to go forward with the egg harvesting.

This was not an easy decision.  Every time I would sit in the waiting room at the Reproductive Medicine Center I would question what I was doing.  This may make a lot of people angry… but I don’t believe spending thousands upon thousands of dollars on IVF treatments is right when there are so many children in the world desperate for good homes. I frequently felt hypocrytical and filled with self-doubt as I watched couple after couple get called back to see the doctor.  Was I really doing the right thing?  Or was I just being selfish about the possibility of carrying my future husband’s child?  But every time I would intellectually battle this thing out for myself, I would come back to two things.

1) I am not an infertile woman determined to carry a child at any cost rather than adopt nor am I someone just placing my biological clock on hold until I am ready to have a baby when it’s convenient.  I am someone who is keeping my fertile eggs healthy by storing them outside of my body… a body that is getting ready to be held hostage and attacked by poisonous chemicals against its will.

2) My chances of ovarian, cervical and uteran cancers will be greatly decreased if I carry a child to term.

Perhaps those two thoughts are merely internal justifications to prevent myself from hypocritical self-loathing.  But at any rate… I chose to go full speed ahead.

Oh, the needles this entailed.

The ever so charmingly handsome Dr. C was convinced we could mature a number of eggs without actually raising my estrogen level (as that’s the stuff that feeds my cancer).  So… every morning for 12 days, I had a stimulant injection to make the eggs grow, a blood draw to make sure my estrogen wasn’t raising at all, and a probe (yep… you can guess where) to make sure the eggs were in fact growing without estrogen.  And then… five days in, we added an evening injection that shuts off the part of the brain that tells the ovary to send the egg to the uterus so that Dr. C could go in and grab the eggs (with a super long needle possessing suction capability, which in my mind is the length of an entire room) before they dropped and deteriorated.  (You’re welcome for the science lesson.)

Truly… the best thing about this is that I am halfway to conquering my cowardice surrounding needles.  I met an amazing Moroccan woman in the lab who drew my blood every day.  She would tell me beautiful stories from Morocco or tales of her torrid yet secret romance with her husband before they were wed.  And through her coaxing, I even got to the point where I could watch her prick my arm with the needle.  And there were a couple of days… just due to the timing of when I needed shots… that I had to give myself the injections.

Now… I don’t like to toot my own horn… but let’s just say I’m kind of a badass for making myself face that fear.

Harvest date was yesterday.

I was sitting in the chair, feet in stirrups, IV in arm… when I asked the nurses 3 questions.

Will you please make him use the little tiny pediatric speculum so this won’t hurt as much?

Yes, they assured.

Do you promise that if I start saying embarrassing things while under anesthesia (like just how charmingly handsome Dr. C is) that you will change the subject so I don’t humiliate myself?

Yes, they assured.

Is this going to mutilate things… you know… down there?

No, they laughed.  Not at all.

The anesthesiologist hit me with her best shot just as Dr. C entered the procedure room.

“You see this, girlie?”  Dr. C asks in his steamy Texas drawl as he points to his scrubs.  “I wore pink ones today just for you.  Cause we’re gonna get every last bit of that breast cancer.”

“Actually…” I slur as my eyes start to feel heavy, “I think those are technically salmon colored scrubs.  That’s not the appropriate shade of pink…”

And then I’m out.  Completely under.  And, thankfully… according to the nurses… I don’t say anything else for the rest of the procedure.

Seventeen.  Dr. C retrieved a total of seventeen eggs for me to store in my frozen Easter basket.  (No.  That is not a euphemism.)  Which is apparently quite a feat considering he didn’t raise my estrogen.  Unfortunately, I think my Mom has translated this good news to mean she can now count on seventeen grandchildren from me to her.

I’ve spent the past couple of days snuggling with a heating pad which seems to take care of any discomfort in the aftermath of the harvest.  And I feel good… comforted by my decision to go through with the freezing.

Next step… chemo.

End cancer chapter 6.


5 Responses to “Easter Came Early”

  1. Maxey Says:

    I think that you made the perfect decision! This is only a small chapter in your very long and amazing life and someday when you are holding your little baby that you carried in your own body, you will be so grateful that you made this choice. You are so wise and beautiful and brave and I am proud to be your friend!

  2. Jen Says:

    You are a strong women! I don’t think you made a bad decision at all! I think it was a brave thing you did and I it sounds like you are at peace with your decision which I am thankful you are. Your a fighter and you are going to kick this cancer! Praying daily for you my dear friend. I hate that you are having to go any of this! Prayers for strength, healing, peace of mind, and encouragement going your way! Hugs my friend.

  3. April Says:

    Gwen, your writing is so incredible. You bring me to tears and make me laugh. I so hope that you will one day write more. I want to read the words from your gigantic, beautiful heart.

  4. Kathleen Swift Says:

    I would be honored if you named one of your mother’s 17 Grandchildren Kathleen Anne~~ I love you Pretty Lady~

  5. Marcia Shaver Says:

    I so admire you and the way you are coming through such a rough time. Prayers and continue to stay strong.

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