• Nathira Salim

One foot there one foot here

I can't make up my mind. During my last trip to the doc, when I brought up the subject of having another child, I think I must have been out of my mind or maybe I was so caught up in the pregnancy announcement made by other people, I for a while thought I can have a baby as well.

Today, I had two different appointments with two different oncologists. One was a chemo doctor and the other was a radiotherapy doctor. The chemo doctor, a good looking, but married Indian doctor explained the cancer I have as detailed as he could. Even Thameem understood. And because I have mentioned about the desire to try for another child, he referred me to the CARE (Centre for Assisted Reproductive Medicine) department in SGH. Basically the plan is to freeze my eggs so that I can try for a child after the treatment is over.

In the mean time, I have signed up for the Oncotype DX testing. What this does is to predict the likely benefit of chemotherapy as well as risk of distant recurrences for patients who are newly diagnosed with early stage invasive breast cancer. To be eligible for this testing, the patient should be estrogen receptor positive and progesterone receptor positive and HER negative tested. Which is what I have.

Since my surgery to remove the tutor was in August, parts of the tumor will be sent to this company in US to do the testing. And yes, the hospital still has the tissues from my surgery stored in formaldehyde solution. They will slice some sections and place them on a slide and send them out. The results will be given in 2 weeks time.

I met the rep of Oncotype DX, Mr Harding, a middle aged thin Chinese man who was friendly as well as welcoming. He explained the tests, costs and benefits and provided me with some paper materials to look into.

The results should let me know if I need to go through Chemo or not. If the score is low, I don't have to proceed with the chemo, but only radiation. If the score comes out high, I will have to go for the chemo plus radiation as well as tamoxifen for 5 years at least.

One more things I almost forgot to include about the Oncotype DX testing - its not cheap. Retrieval of the tissue is about SGD300 and the testing is around USD 5000. The total is around SGD6500. At the time of drafting this, I have not paid up yet but the paper work is complete.

If my results turn out that I have to do chemo - the money spent will be refunded back to the credit card used. If the results were low and I don't have to do chemo - money will not be refunded.

Since my ovaries will shut down the moment I start chemo, the plan is got freeze my eggs first. Once I am done with the chemo and radiation, I can then proceed to try for a child using the eggs I froze. Which means I have to pay someone to retrieve my eggs, freeze them and pay for the storage monthly.

Thats when I was slapped by reality. I am no Kardashian. How the fuck am I supposed to pay for the process of freezing my eggs? If I had so much eggs, I would have had my ovulation and periods on time! I didn't think of that when I was down with the pity party last week!

To retrieve eggs, my system should be able to produce them on its own but I can't. Using clomid and other hormone medications were the reason why maybe I have cancer. I don't know. But when I went though the material about egg retrieval - I started remembering the trips I made to the gynaecologist to have my ovulations induced many years ago. Process is the same - I have to pump hormones into my system to induce eggs. Then I have to monitor weekly to see if I have developed eggs. And then I have to have them retrieved on a separate time, and pay for the freezing as well as for the storage. The cost of freezing alone will be more than SGD10K ! Gulp!

I would have received some subsidy from government if I had attempted IUI or IVF before I turned 40. But I didn't. I gave up on having another child naturally the moment I hit 40. So it will hurt me financially, mentally and physically if I were to try for another child. My gut and lazy bitch in me is telling me its not worth it. I should be trying to recover and heal from cancer instead. I have to discuss with the man about this.

This time, I think, I should say good bye to the dream of having more than one kid and live with it gracefully instead of having one foot here and there.

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