If there is one thing I grow tired of hearing, it is the number of people being diagnosed with cancer. Every day, it seems, I hear more and more about another good person falling victim to the duplicitous disease. Just last week, a good friend of my family succumbed to its wrath. I wish I could just roll up my sleeves and deliver a knock out punch to its invisible face – to rid the world of the misery it causes.
And that is just what I heard from a patient I spoke to last week. The young woman, only 25 years old, called in to schedule a new patient appointment and informed me that she had been diagnosed with cancer. My initial reaction, beyond the ominous feelings of deflation from learning of another person having to suddenly deal with such heavy news, is always a great sense that I must help this person beyond my best ability. As I spoke to this young woman, it became apparent to me that her strength far exceeded what one would expect. Rather than throwing in the towel and assuming she was out of options, she had picked up the phone and took charge of the situation. What’s more, she laughed and joked and continuously commented on how great life is and how amazing it is that advancements in medical practices have provided her the opportunity to have children once her treatment was over. The next thing I knew, I found myself beaming and experiencing her hope. It was a wonderfully inspiring moment.
Currently, we have about 12 cancer patients undergoing fertility treatment at Shady Grove Fertility. While that may sound like a small number in comparison to the number of patients we see per year, 12 is 12 too many for our liking. But, as I mentioned before, we are all powerless to stop the disease, but not powerless to make a difference. Here at SGF, I am proud to say, we work closely with the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF) and its affiliate, Fertile Hope. Fertile Hope offers assistance with medications for cancer patients seeking treatment with us; in addition, SGF also partners with another off-shoot of LAF and Fertile Hope, called Sharing Hope, which offers financial assistance for those patients interested in freezing their eggs or embryos. Patients are often referred by their primary care physicians or their oncologists, but any cancer patient is welcome to give us a call to discuss their fertility options.
When new patients call to make an appointment, we will work diligently to make sure they are able to be seen right away. At the time of making the appointment, we will also put patients in touch with a member of our clinical staff who will collect medical information regarding the cancer diagnosis as well as a financial team member who will cover the details of the Fertile Hope and Sharing Hope programs.
“All with the simple goal of keeping hope alive for you,” I said to my young patient as I finished relaying the details of our programs. Finally, after 20 minutes of joviality, the levy broke and I could hear the tears come. After giving her a moment, in an almost inaudible voice, she tried to speak. “There are so many things I wish I could say,” she said, “but all I can say is thank you. Thank you.”
I share this story this week not only as a way to call-out to cancer patients out there who may be desperately looking for options, for a beacon of light in the dark tunnel. To share the ways in which Shady Grove Fertility is always looking for opportunities to help bring hope to patients the world over and to make sure our patients understand that our foremost goal is to make a difference.
If you are interested in exploring options regarding assistance through the Fertile Hope and Sharing Hope programs, please visit fertilehope.org. You can learn more about our egg, embryo and sperm freezing program at Shady Grove Fertility’s Center for Fertility Preservation.
Help and dedication are only a phone call away.