This time last year I was in Palau; a pristine paradise in Micronesia where my main concern in life was whether I’d go on the morning or afternoon dive session, or sometimes both. Surrounded by the most scenically magical landscapes both above and below the water, I was in a constant state of awe and living and diving a very carefree life.
Life concerns have slightly changed since then. The utter excitement of diving and witnessing red snapper spawning has since been replaced with the fear of possibly not being able to spawn my own mini human. For red snapper, darting in and out of a cloud of milky sperm seems a hell of a lot easier and less stressful.
Emotionally and mentally, I’ve had a really tough week. I feel this is contributed to the fact that my chemo treatment is coming to an end with only 4 weeks left to go. I keep thinking about our 1 frozen embyro, and whether any of the my eggs will survive the harsh effects of chemotherapy.
I had an AMH (Anti-Mullerian Hormone) test prior to the commencement of chemo which indicated what my egg supply level was. I will do another test after chemo to see what the difference is. Prior to chemo my test results revealed that my ovarian egg supply was very low – the equivalent to a 40 yr old. I was absolutely shattered, and still am to be honest. At the age of 30, a women’s lifetime supply of eggs (she is born with between 1-2million cells that develop into eggs) is already down to approx 12%. This scares the shit out of me when I think, well if I had a level of a 40yr old prior to starting chemo, then what percentage will that leave me at post treatment? I never asked what the actual percentage was to start with as I was too scared from the tone of my specialists voice and her words “it is concerning.”
Today I’m feeling scared and anxious thinking about doing another AMH test which I’m guessing will be done in a month or so once I finish treatment. Do I really want to know what percentage of eggs I have left? Will I have any at all that survived the damage of chemo treatment? Will I have enough eggs to potentially harvest and freeze by doing another IVF cycle? Even if I have enough eggs to try and do another cycle, I don’t even know how long I have to wait to do this. I’ve been told to wait at least 2 years to try and have a baby in order to let my body recuperate after such a battering and also to prevent damaged eggs getting fertilized. In this time, perhaps my periods will come back naturally? But this obviously all depends on my egg levels, hence my concerns.
When it comes to egg freezing, a young woman under 35 has a 45% success rate (of falling pregnant) from a cycle with an embyro transfer. This statistic is me. One embyro. One chance. I can’t help thinking about the other 55%.
Oh how easy the red snapper have it.
(Red Snapper Image- photographer Tony Wu)