by Jakub, Europe (2014) July 22, 2014

Some personal thoughts from a survivor about fertility after a childhood cancer treatment

„Chances are, that you will never be able to have children”, a paradox in itself, as this was said to me long before my cancer diagnosis. A statement made long before I was able to challenge – too young to know how exactly children are brought into the world. A statement made long before I was able to decide whether or not I really wanted to have children. My Polish doctor was at the time perhaps too ambitious with this statement or maybe just a pessimistic Polish man. Either way, I remembered this statement throughout my therapy (after finally the diagnosis was made – ALL) – a statement that left its mark for a long time. On the one side, I was hurt as my masculinity was put into question and on the other side my future was distorted. Anyway, it wasn´t a priority. Don´t rock the boat – how was I to think about a life of an unborn child, when I was just awarded a second chance of life myself?

I never considered having my fertility tested. At least not within the walls of a laboratory – as there is never enough candlelight, music or room for romance – which I wanted passionately as I prefer to be empirical and allow nature to take it´s course. Practically speaking, I figured that I needed to learn to walk before I can run. Time would tell and it did in my case, so the hours of practice have been literally fruitful. When the time was right – I played only a small role.

And still, this prediction (a mood spoiler! and wrong!) caused me sweat and stress through all the empirical examinations …for the one and only? or for many others this would have been a ‘knock out’ criteria. Children are our future, so: no children, no future? Over and over again, and more often than I like to admit, this question came to the surface of my consciousness – a huge unknown in my life, the X-Factor; a shadow of darkness from my past lingering over me. But in the long run there would be a final battle against my enemy, cancer. I had already defeated it once, but would this enemy be as resentful as I was? Would it ruin my chances of having children of my own?

And then there was clarity – in March; and by the end of October 2013 I knew, for sure, that there could be only one winner – it was me! The final opponent had been defeated. The final round had been won. A child was conceived, a son was born. Emil – my sweet revenge! I gave the illness ‘the middle finger’- the last siege of my unwavering will to defeat cancer.

I will admit, my part in this was small, even microscopic, but the joy was insurmountable. Satisfaction, happiness – the future is now and life is so wonderful that it is worth creating a new gift of life. I was given the gift of living twice, and thanks to Emil I have paid half of my dues. If I will be able to pay off my debts or face insolvency, it is too early to say. But I am here now and I am enjoying the here and now with Emil.

“Chances are you will never be able to have children”. Nonsense!  All I ever wanted, all I ever needed is here in my arms: Emil. Words and false prophecies are very unnecessary, they can only do harm.