Each October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month reminds us that around 700,000 people will be diagnosed with breast cancer – a diagnosis that breast cancer advocate and previvor, Allyn Rose, took courageous steps from becoming her and her future child(ren)’s fate. Upon her late mother’s request, Rose began her family-building journey by understanding how in vitro fertilization (IVF) and preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) could help reduce the likelihood of passing known genetic diseases to offspring.
“In the last letter that my mother wrote to me before her passing from metastatic breast cancer at age 50, she warned me of my family’s predisposition to cancer and rare diseases, encouraging me to undergo IVF treatment to eliminate this disease,” says Rose, who is also a former Miss USA and Miss America contestant and model. “Her forethought, 16 years prior to today, was the catalyst for me to take charge of my reproductive health.”
Up to 10 percent of breast cancer cases are linked to an inherited gene mutation. Not only did Rose cope with the loss of her mother from breast cancer at a young age, she experienced the passing of her grandmother and great aunt from it, too. So, after years donning glamorous ensembles on big stages for Miss America and Miss USA, Rose traded in pageant for patient gowns as she underwent a preventative (prophylactic) double (bilateral) mastectomy to prolong her life.
“I knew that my journey of preventive healthcare didn’t end with my mastectomy,” says Rose. “If I was taking steps to prolong my own life, it only made sense that I would do the same for my future children.”
That is when our story with Rose began. In October 2019, Rose turned to SGF to help protect her future child(ren) from the same genetic diseases prevalent in Rose’s family tree. Now, we’re catching up with Rose to see where she is on her pursuit of pregnancy 1 year later.
What is IVF and Genetic Testing?
We’ve all done it: we see a baby for the first time and warmly comment “he has his father’s nose” or “she has her mother’s eyes.” It’s clear to see how genetics were passed down through physical traits. Yet on the inside, a whole other genetic story is unfolding.
One year ago, Rose started documenting her IVF with PGT journey with Kate Devine, M.D. at SGF’s Washington, D.C. – K Street location. Patients who also aspire to limit the passing of genetic mutations like Rose can turn to SGF for:
- Screening for over 280 recessive gene mutations, including diseases such as cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs disease, and spinal muscular atrophy.
- Individualized testing for patients at risk for dominant gene mutations, such as breast cancer or inherited forms of colon cancer.
“The thing I love about SGF, and what I think makes them stand out, is that a large number of their staff have undergone fertility treatments themselves,” shares Rose. “I really appreciated that because I felt like they actually understood what I was going through and when they told me that I would be okay – they meant it.”
Rose followed the course of a standard IVF process from the initial screenings to the IVF injections to the egg retrieval. The point where her process diverged was the genetic testing of her embryos. Embryos, as tiny as they are, have a big genetic story that can be told through a biopsy.
Another IVF Success Story
This past July, ironically on the 16th anniversary of the passing of Rose’s mother, Rose took to Instagram with a heartfelt post about her pregnancy test results:
“CYO and I are thrilled to announce that after 10 months of the roller coaster of IVF, I’m pregnant. The IVF journey doesn’t end here, but I’m an eternal optimist and look forward to introducing Baby Oertel to the world in 2021.”
In a follow-up Instagram post of the positive pregnancy test, Allyn wrote, “…I hope it brings some hope to those of you in the middle of climbing what feels like an insurmountable hill – trying to conceive, or with work, or balancing life in general. There IS light at the end of the tunnel. Mine just happened to be of 2 VERY CLEAR lines and what the IVF community calls a “BFP” or BIG FAT POSITIVE!”
“Allyn’s story is a powerful reminder to women everywhere that they’re not alone,” says Dr. Devine. “IVF with PGT-M is a safe and reliable means of fertility treatment for couples who want to take their genetic history in their own hands. I’m so happy that Allyn and her husband will soon welcome a baby who’s free of breast cancer and known rare diseases.”
Exploring Treatment at SGF
SGF is home to more than 85,000 babies born, each one with a unique story. Are you ready to begin yours? To learn more about SGF’s treatment options or to schedule an appointment, please call the New Patient Center at 1-888-761-1967 or complete this brief online form.