This is one of the most difficult entries to write. I’ve had it saved on my computer for a while but I get too scared to post.
This may not affect everyone reading this, cancer or no cancer, but I believe an ability to empathize with the issue is universal. For those reading this who are close to me, I hope that this won’t affect how you see me too much.
I want this post to be unapologetic. I’m not going to belittle the problem, or talk about relativity or staying positive. I am positive and optimistic but if you are someone who has had cancer/is going through cancer and it affects your fertility, particularly if you are a woman….this shit sucks. It just sucks.
It is up to you how you handle it, but I think you have to grieve that loss…but not forever. The details are not of great importance, and whilst it is a very personal and private pain I feel it is important to share it here. I personally believe that everyone is entitled to whatever reaction they feel like if this happens to them. If you want to scream and shout, you should do it. If you want to cry, you should do it. If you want to construct a collage, it may be a little ‘off-centre’, but you should do it.
I found out early on in my malignancy that I wasn’t going to be able to have children, at least not naturally. Having had both ovaries removed has a variety of irritating side effects, some physical and some psychological. Whilst my parents and me might have hoped to freeze my eggs, that possibility did not present itself.
I’m going to be frankly honest here and I’m sorry if you are reading and this doesn’t bring you comfort. It has been 7 years and it still hurts, a lot, and I wish it didn’t.
It hurts when I play with my friend’s amazing daughter. It hurts when I see photos of my boss’s kid on his wall. Sometimes it comes from a doctor asking me ‘How I’m going to tell my boyfriend…surely that’s a big deal?’ or simply exclaiming ‘No ovaries…No kids then’. It’s a lighting bolt of sadness, the only sadness that has stayed with me after cancer.
It makes me feel less of a woman, that there exists a fundamental flaw. It feels like a failure. That people can tell.
My biggest fear – and this is one I’ve shared with few – is that no one will marry or love me for that reason. That’s a hard one to admit. We may not live in a medieval age, where women have but one purpose, but still I think of some future partner’s parents…. who wanted their own grandchildren. Who am I to deprive them of that? Why shouldn’t they have what comes naturally to so many other people?
It feels empty and yet crushing. It feels like the one thing I was supposed to be able to just…do. I think of the names I had thought about at 12 or 14. That he or she might look like me, or even act like me. That whomever I loved, he or she would be this bizarre exciting combo of the two of us. That hurts.
There are times when it doesn’t hurt as much.
I try to stay positive and think of the millions of opportunities to become a parent another way. None of which should be lesser, says my rational mind. My friend, with Two beautiful daughters now, told me “it doesn’t matter where they came from, but that you are the one they need”. Adoption, surrogacy…. future cloning options…it is all possible and I’m sure as fulfilling as natural conception.
My most comforting memory is when I was watching Modern Family, feeling pretty bumtown. My friend pointed out what Mitch and Cam said about Lily (their adopted daughter for those who don’t watch)
“She’s not ours, but we made her.”
It is also allowed to hurt, and it is a very private hurt that I have shared…in the hopes that those reading this may understand and be comforted in the idea that someone else is going through the same.
We’ll see what happens. I hold out hope.