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Life beyond cancer: Starting a family following treatment
Date:10/24/2011

CHICAGO - Five years ago, Sheri Scott was beginning a new chapter in her life. The recently engaged 31-year-old was eagerly browsing bridal magazines and busy planning for her big day. Unfortunately, just weeks following her engagement, Scott was diagnosed with breast cancer. Suddenly, she was juggling medical appointments and planning a double mastectomy instead of a wedding. Soon after her diagnosis, Scott was approached by her doctor at Northwestern Memorial Hospital about preserving her fertility. He explained that cancer treatment could compromise her fertility and stated there were options available if she wanted to preserve her chances of having children. In that moment, having a family was the farthest thing from her mind, but the conversation sparked a decision that would change her life forever.

"When my doctor suggested I consider in vitro fertilization (IVF), I was taken back. I hadn't really thought about kids. We just got engaged and I was scared that I wasn't even going to see my wedding day. The last thing on my mind was starting a family," said Scott.

While Scott was consumed by her diagnosis, her doctors were looking to the future. "When a woman, man or teenage girl or boy is diagnosed with cancer, there is only a brief window of time to learn about options for preserving their fertility before treatment," said Ralph R. Kazer, MD, reproductive endocrinologist at Northwestern Memorial and professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "Once a patient begins chemotherapy or radiation, they are at risk of losing their ability to have children in the future."

When Scott realized there was a good chance that chemotherapy would leave her infertile she and her fianc opted for emergency IVF. Doctors at Northwestern Memorial worked quickly to harvest her eggs, fertilize them with her fianc's sperm and freeze them for use later in life. The outpatient procedure was completed i
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Contact: Angela Salerno
asalerno@nmh.org
312-926-8327
Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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