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Meet Lindsey

On June 1st 2017, five days before I was set to move from Cleveland to Chicago to complete my doctoral training and a year and a day until our wedding, I was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. With a single symptom, no risk factors, and no family history, I don't think shocked sums up how I felt/feel.

My fiancé and I have spent the last five of our seven years together in separate cities while we worked on our doctoral degrees. For months leading up to my move to his current location we talked excitedly about finally sharing a space, wedding planning, and looking forward to building a family in the year following our nuptials.

Suddenly it became unclear if I would be able to move at all. Luckily my doctors rallied around me and we quickly scheduled surgery to remove my tumor and the sigmoid colon where it grew. My surgeon and oncologist were optimistic that this procedure would do the trick. Following a week in the hospital and another week recovering at home, we were told that this unfortunately wasn’t the case. One of the twenty lymph nodes removed was affected with cancer, and a six-month course of chemotherapy was the prescription. As the shock of the news wore off across the day, I grabbed my laptop and searched for the name of my treatment. To my surprise, within the first few links appeared discussions of fertility loss. No one, it seemed, could estimate the risk. I called my oncologist immediately.

At the same time, my doctoral training and the lease on my apartment were both coming to an end and I had a commitment to begin a job in Chicago. With the approval of my doctors I boarded a plane with hopes of quickly establishing a new care team on a short timeline. Over a few weeks there were seemingly endless phone calls to accelerate the process of initiating my new insurance, finding new doctors, and determining whether we could even consider fertility preservation.

Shortly after my move, we first met with a reproductive endocrinologist who shared the exciting news that we had just enough time to for a single cycle of egg retrieval. We were overjoyed, but also overwhelmed by the cost – one we came to learn that insurance rarely covers. We knew that fertility preservation offers a choice in the otherwise large sea of non-choices that accompany cancer treatment, but did not know if it was one we could afford.

Sensing our concern, our patient advocate spoke with us about how to make treatment a reality through grants such as Team Maggie for a Cure. Reading about Maggie and those she has helped, we felt hope that fertility preservation might be in reach. We cannot begin to express our gratitude for allowing us to focus on the excitement of the future in a time that is otherwise is wrought almost exclusively with fear and doubt. We encourage anyone recently diagnosed to ask your doctors about fertility early and often, and to seek support and exercise choice where you can. It truly makes all the difference.


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