Tanya: cancer and frozen embryos

For some people, infertility can be caused by medical treatment...
23 July 2018

Interview with 

Tanya Hill, IVF patient


Some people seek IVF because they’ve struggled to conceive naturally. Others have the decision forced upon them by an unexpected situation that could otherwise rob them of their chance to have children later. Tanya is one of them. She and her partner Brendon now have embryos frozen, ready for when they decide to take the next step...

Tanya - I’d just turned 25, and the five days later I found out that I had leukemia. I remember breaking down in the living room. Brendon ran out to get my dad because he was working on the car on the drive and he brought my dad in, and my dad calmed me down enough for me to tell them. My dad rang my mum, and my mum came home from work. My brothers were involved. Like the whole family came to the hospital with me - it was incredible. They’ve been that supportive from day one, which has been amazing.

The chemotherapy didn’t work so my next step was to have a stem cell transplant. I was very lucky that my brother was a 100 percent match for a donor. Obviously, it’s horrible having cancer but everything seemed to just fit into place. It was all very very lucky and it went probably as well as it could have done. Then I managed to go back home, you know, regularly checked up at hospital. I was very unwell because before the transplant I had to have another round of chemo and full body radiation. Hence where the IVF comes in. Before you have full body radiation they kind of said, once you’ve had it that’s it.

I took the news of not being able to have my own kids worse than finding out I had cancer. Which is strange now I think about it because, obviously, there is things like IVF and you know you can adopt, and there’s other options out there. But when I found out I had the cancer it was you’re going to have to go through this, then you’ll be fine. When I was told about the kid thing, yes there are other options, but I’ll never be able to have my own biological children and that absolutely crushed me.

I think it was even worse because I think I found the one guy that wanted kids very very young. By that time, turning 25, I was ready. It was finding a job so that we had a stable income between us and then kids, that was my next step in, you know, life plan. So again, I think that’s why it hit so hard. It had been taken away before you’d even had a chance to try.

Addenbrooke’s hospital and Bourn Hall just worked so well together. They got everything done so quickly that it was possible for me to have the IVF done. Basically, a lot of people who have cancer who have treatments don’t have the time in between their chemotherapy to have IVF done. You need a certain amount of break off of chemotherapy. You can’t have any chemo while you’re having the IVF done. I’d finished my chemo and I had about maybe a three week break before I was going to have the radiotherapy done. And again, if they hadn’t worked so well together and got everything sorted so quickly it never would have been able to happen.

Yeah, now we have nine frozen embryos waiting for us!


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