North Texas

Doctors Work to Preserve Fertility in Cancer Patients

A specialized team of doctors is working to help cancer patients preserve their fertility and get treatment. Ten months ago, the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, or SCCA opened its oncoreproduction clinic. It’s staffed with experts in fertility and cancer all in the same place.

Chenault is concealing her identity to protect her family’s privacy. She was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma but says maintaining her ability to have children was the most emotional part of her treatment.

"I had never really thought of a life where I wouldn’t be able to have children and have a family," said Chenault. "It’s been important to me for a really long time."

Dr. Genevieve S. Neal-Perry, at SCCA-UW Medicine, runs the oncoreproduction clinic, a place where newly diagnosed women can come to freeze eggs, freeze embryos, even get Lupron, to put them into temporary menopause until after chemo.

“You have a select population, and you can address their select needs and make sure that we can really provide them very direct and focused care,” Neal-Perry said.

The Livestrong Foundation offers financial aid, since insurance often won’t cover fertility preservation. Chenault chose to freeze two sets of embryos and get Lupron. She just finished chemo and hopes to start talking about babies in six months to a year.

“I can’t imagine how much harder this would have been without this response,” Chenault said.

Both she and Neal-Perry say this gives patients some control in a situation where they may feel they have none.

"It really does give patients kind of a license to kind of fight, really move through the treatment and feel positive about the end of the tunnel,” said Neal-Perry

Chenault encourages cancer patients considering fertility preservation to ask a lot of questions about possible treatments and resources. Both Livestrong and Walgreen’s offer financial aid for meds.

Contributors to this news report include: Wendy Chioji, Field Producer; Rusty Reed, Videographer; Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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