Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Celine Dion is Pregnant - What Does this Have to Do with Cancer?

Celine Dion and her husband, René Angélil, recently announced that they are pregnant with their second child, conceived with the help of fertility doctors in New York. Her husband is a cancer survivor and years ago there were alleged reports of him banking sperm and/or them banking embryos before he started his cancer treatments. Regardless of how they go here, I am thrilled to see another survivor and his wife build the family of their dreams!

Do you have a story to share?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What do FitPregnancy, Project Runway & Fertile Hope Have in Common?

Fit Pregnancy is hosting a live online auction of the maternity dress designed by Project Runway winner Christian Siriano to benefit Fertile Hope!

The gorgeous dress is featured on the current cover of FitPregnancy (pictured here). The exclusive design is a creation of Project Runway season four winner Christian Siriano, based on his new Fierce Mamas for Moody Mamas line. The dress will be custom-made for the highest bidder by the designers behind Moody Mamas, Marta Abrams and Elise Rosemarin.

Proceeds will benefit Fertile Hope - which means it is a guilt-free purchase! Start bidding now!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Government Funding Available for Fertility Preservation Research

The NICHD, NIOSH and CDC published a new fertility preservation request for applications titled Fertility Preservation Research: Advancing Beyond Technology.

We have been advocating for this for years and are thrilled to see it come to fruition! Not only is this an excellent funding opportunity, but it is an amazing milestone for this field of research.

Learn more and apply (and let us know how Fertile Hope can help!)!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Cancer & Fertility in People Magazine

I was thrilled to see the story about cancer and fertility in People magazine this week!

The story profiles Chris Biblis, a cancer survivor and new dad. Thanks to his mom's advice, Chris banked his sperm prior to chemo and radiation when he was 16 - 22 years ago - and he now has a bounching baby girl, Stella. Chris' case is only one of three documented using sperm that is more than 20 years old, which addresses one of the top questions we receive: how long can my sperm (or eggs or embryos or ovarian tissue) be frozen?

Chris is quoted in the article saying: "I'm the luckiest person!" I feel the same way! Anyone else out there with a story like this to share?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Fertile Hope Programs & Services Acquired by LIVESTRONG

Fertile Hope is pleased to announce its’ programs and services have been acquired by the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF).

The decision to pass along Fertile Hope – my life’s work and the organization that helped me fulfill my own parenthood dreams – was not made lightly. The LAF’s commitment to join forces and leverage the LIVESTRONG platform for fertility represents a powerful next step in the evolution of Fertile Hope, and an opportunity to better meet the reproductive needs of cancer patients and survivors going forward.

We plan to work diligently over the next 6 months to strategize on the best ways to leverage both organizations’ strengths to best meet the reproductive needs of cancer patients and survivors. We look forward to unveiling our plans in the near future. In the meantime, the LAF will maintain critical Fertile Hope programs including the website, hotline, financial assistance program (Sharing Hope) and brochure order fulfillment. You can continue to access our services as you always have online or by calling (866) 994-HOPE.

This is truly a historic moment for the organization and we welcome your ideas as we embark on great things. Read more

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Exciting Plans in the Works...

Fertile Hope is thrilled to announce that we are pursuing an alignment with a national, cancer-related, nonprofit organization. We are proud to have achieved phase one of our mission and are excited to unveil plans to work towards achieving phase two through a strategic alliance.

During this transition, we are pleased to be working with the Lance Armstrong Foundation to continue to administer our Hotline as well as our Sharing Hope financial assistance program. Please be aware, however, that a few of our programs are currently on-hold, including Centers of Excellence and Professional Education.

We remain committed to our mission of addressing the profound needs of cancer patients whose medical treatments present the risk of infertility and appreciate your patience during this transition. We are excited to share our plans in the near future.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

News Flash - Cancer and Fertility in the New York Times Today

The New York Times published "Family Planning When Cancer Intrudes" today. I am thrilled that they are supporting Fertile Hope's mission by raising awareness about cancer and fertility, but also frustrated by a number of inaccuracies and misleading statements in the article. Bittersweet...

What do you think of the article?

Monday, April 20, 2009

How Do I Explain Cancer & Death to a Two Year Old?

As you can imagine, I hear a lot of cancer stories in my line of work. What you may not realize, however, is that I mostly hear about diagnosis and survival, not death. People come to Fertile Hope, and me, when they are first diagnosed and want fertility information or as they become long-term survivors and want to fulfill their parenthood dreams. Well, today, the reality that cancer kills broke my heart. Someone who touched our family dearly died of cancer over spring break. She left a week ago healthy – or so I thought – and never came back. I am devastated, and I have no idea how to explain this to a two and a half year old. Any advice?

Friday, April 10, 2009

OHSU Knight Cancer Institute Awarded as a Leader in Cancer & Fertility


Joyce wraps up her trip to Oregon presenting a Center of Excellence award and having drinks with Olympian Eric Shanteau

Last night, I was incredibly honored to present OHSU Knight Cancer Institute with Fertile Hope’s Center of Excellence award. The night began with an introduction by Dr. Brandon Hayes-Lattin, the Director of the Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Program at the Knight and a national leader on the issue. I was up next to present our Centers of Excellence award to Dr. Tom Beer, the Deputy Director of the Knight. Dr. Beer commented about the significance of his role as a father in his own life – personal, touching thoughts that really helped illuminate what we are trying do and achieve with this award. Then, Dr. David Lee, a true pioneer in ovarian tissue freezing and Fertile Hope Medical Advisory Board member, spoke about the what working together with the oncology team at the Knight has meant to him and his team at OHSU Fertility Consultants.

The keynote address was given by Eric Shanteau an Olympic swimmer, current world-record holder and testicular cancer survivor. (While Eric was looking sharp in his three-piece suit, he may have disappointed some in the audience who were hoping for a Speedo!) Eric’s description of his challenges with a cancer diagnosis in his twenties, in the public eye, in the midst of his bid for a berth in the Olympics, was funny, frank and moving. The very first question from the audience was whether or not he had banked his sperm! (Not a plant, I swear!) The answer, luckily, was yes.

After the event I was privileged to spend some time talking to Eric and I was impressed by his willingness to use his public persona to give back – in a role-up-your sleeves, do-the-work kind of way – and to do it so quickly – now – when he is less than a year from his own diagnosis and still training and racing.

Joyce had an incredible week promoting young adult cancer. What did you do to raise awareness about young adult cancer this week?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Fast Track Fertility Programs for Cancer Patients

Joyce is up to more great things in Oregon this week...

I just had the opportunity to visit with the doctors and staff at Oregon Reproductive Medicine – a great facility and strong supporter of Fertile Hope for many years. We discussed opportunities for collaboration, and I was particularly interested in learning more about their “Fast Track” program – a special system designed to expedite and simplify the fertility preservation process for their cancer patients. It is a thoughtful and promising model...

What do you think reproductive clinics need to know about cancer patients in order to meet their fertility needs? Anyone other reproductive clinics have special programs for cancer patients?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Top 5 Questions to Ask Your Oncologist about Cancer & Fertility

  1. Will my cancer treatments put me at risk for infertility?
  2. What are my fertility preservation options?
  3. If I don’t preserve my fertility, what are my post-treatment family-building options?
  4. How long does it take for fertility to return and how will I know if I am fertile?
  5. Is pregnancy safe after cancer and what are the risks to my children based on my cancer and the treatments I received?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Cancer Video Games - Who Knew?!

Fertile Hope's VP of Programs, Joyce Reinecke, is in Oregon celebrating National Young Adult Cancer Awareness Week and just sent me this update:

I just saw Dr. Steve Cole of HopeLab give an amazing talk on their video game, Re-Mission, which was designed to help Adolescent Young Adult (AYA) cancer patients learn more about what is happening to their bodies and give them a sense of control over the cancer experience. It was a great presentation with much input from the audience about what they want to see (or not see!) in version two.

I'd love to know what Fertile Hope's followers think about using video games to teach kids about their cancer? Have you played Re-Mission? Any thoughts on integrating survivorship issues like fertility?

Monday, April 6, 2009

It is National Young Adult Cancer Awareness Week - Who Cares? You Should.


Every time I see these statistics I am blown away. Is this really the state of cancer care today? Here they are:
  1. 70,000 young adults (15-39) are diagnosed with cancer each year.
  2. Cancer is the leading disease killer among 20-39 year olds.
  3. Survival rates for young adults have not increased since 1975.
What can you do to help?
We can achieve more together than alone. Let's join forces and make those shocking statistics history! Anyone have other ideas, information or suggestions on how someone can help?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Would You Consider Single Embryo Transfer?

Time magazine published an article this week about a recent study that suggests that the most effective and inexpensive IVF method may also be the least likely to result in dangerous multiple births – single embryo transfer.

In 2005, during my first IVF cycle to achieve pregnancy (not my egg freezing cycle), my doctor and I discussed single embryo transfer. I was desperate to have a baby and adamantly against it. That was 4 years ago and research come a long way since then, but I am still not sure my answer would be different today. While I have no interest in becoming the octomom, I like the idea of having twins. When I really dig deep though, the root of my decision is cost and convenience.

I have been through 6 IVF cycles thus far. On average it takes me 2-3 cycles to get pregnant, each cycle costing $22,000 or more (IVF + ICSI + PGD + Medications). Even with partial insuarnce coverage, it is expensive. Somehow, I just didn't feel comfortable spending that money and only transferring 1 embryo. I also liked the idea of twins in that it would get me to my goal of a big family faster. 2-3 fewer IVF cycles down the road, 1 less pregnancy, etc. The reality of all of the risks of multiples are scary though and if cost wasn’t a factor, they would trump convenience for me.

So, I wonder, would more people be willing to do single embryo transfer, if insurance paid for IVF? And, would insurance be more willing to cover IVF, if people did single embryo transfer? Maybe this is the answer we’ve all been waiting for…

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Looking for a Reproductive Doctor or Service?

I am thrilled to announce that the 2009 Cancer & Fertility Referral Guide is now live! With more than 800 listings, it is the most comprehensive tool of its kind in the industry. We completely revamped our system (thanks to webflow solutions), so that you can now compare centers side-by-side, request an appointment, view insurances accepted and initial consultation fees (many offer free initial consults for newly diagnosed cancer patients), link directly to their success rate data, and more!

Check it out and tell me what you think!

p.s. In our poll 67% of you voted YES to selling advertising on our website for the Referral Guide, so we did. The companies who advertised made this cool new tool possible. Thank you!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Everyone Around Me is Pregnant!

I love it! I am also really jealous. Is that strange? I have two beautiful children! I am taking it as a sign that I definitely want more babies.

All the recent baby news sent me down memory lane to a time when it was unbearable. I was always happy for my friends who were pregnant, but I was also incredibly sad that I wasn't yet (and didn't know if I would ever be). Every cliché was true - and I hated it.

I also hated (and still do) the feeling of telling someone that I know is wrestling with infertility that I am pregnant (and/or talking about my kids). It is like telling someone dying of cancer that you are a 5 year survivor. It doesn't seem fair. I am usually overwhelmed with survivor's guilt. And, I never know what to say. Even worse, I feel like everyone thinks I should know exactly what to say because I've been there. The expectations are high - and I always fail to meet them.

Ever been on either side of the fence? Advice?

Friday, March 27, 2009

What do Fertile Hope & Olympic Swimmer Eric Shanteau Have in Common?

We'll both be in Oregon celebrating Young Adult Cancer Week on April 9. Join us at the free event and see the Knight Cancer Institute become a Fertile Hope Center of Excellence.




Thursday, March 26, 2009

It Worked - Grey's Anatomy Talked About Cancer and Fertility

Anyone watching Grey's Anatomy right now? Last week, I blogged about one of the main characters, Izzy, being diagnosed with metastatic melanoma as a young adult. We sent tons of emails to the writers suggesting that they integrate fertility into the storyline - and they did! They just told her to freeze her eggs! Her response: "Right, babies!" Oh my gosh, now they are talking to her boyfriend about getting his sperm because frozen embryos have better success rates. This is amazing!


Cancer and fertility made primetime!

News Flash - Cancer ALERT Act Introduced Today and Includes Survivorship

Senators Edward M. Kennedy and Kay Bailey Hutchison today introduced the 21st Century Cancer Access to Life-Saving Early detection, Research and Treatment (ALERT) Act, a bill to comprehensively address the challenges our nation faces in battling this disease. This is the first sweeping cancer legislation introduced since the National Cancer Act in 1971, authored by Kennedy. The Act includes a section dedicated specifically to "Cancer Survivorship and Complete Recovery Initiatives." Read more in the Senators' op-ed to the Houston Chronicle.

I can't wait to see what this means for cancer, survivorship and fertility...

News Flash - 1st Ever Cancer Survivor Pregnant With Twins from Ovarian Tissue Freezing

I just got a google alert reporting that a 39-year-old breast cancer survivor in Spain will become the world’s first woman to give birth to twins after receiving a transplant of her own ovarian tissue. Reportedly, the woman had her ovaries removed and frozen before cancer treatments, reimplanted after treatment and regained hormonal function. Now, she is 15 weeks pregnant with twins. Does anyone know more?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Help Pass a Bill that Highlights the Importance of Fertility for Young Breast Cancer Patients

Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz, a recent breast cancer survivor, introducted a bill this week called the EARLY Act to amend the Public Health Service Act to increase awareness of the risks of breast cancer in young women and provide support for young women diagnosed with breast cancer. Fertility is specifically highlighted and efforts to improve fertility education and counseling will hopefully be the beneficiary of some of the $40 million that will be appropriated to the issue if it passes.

Check out her interview on Good Morning America and the press release announcing the Act.

Please help us get this bill passed - write your representative!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

This Inspired Me...

Inspired?

Friday, March 20, 2009

New Fertility Clinic Success Rates Released - Does this Data Help You Choose a Doctor?

The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) just released the most recent summary of fertility clinic success rates. You can look at national averages as well as see individual clinic statistics such as patient volume, success rates, and occurrence of multiples. I find it fascinating - with one major downfall: they don't track egg freezing yet!

Some warn that this data should not be the only factor used when choosing a fertility doctor or clinic. Here are some additional factors to consider:

  • Qualifications and experience of personnel
  • Types of patients being treated
  • Support services available
  • Cost
  • Convenience
  • Recommendations & Reputation
I always wonder: did you know these existed? Do you find them helpful? Would you use this information to help make a decision?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Help Us Get Cancer and Fertility on Primetime

Last week on ABC's smash hit Grey's Anatomy, one of the main characters was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma. Do you think fertility will come up? Join us in emailing the writers to suggest that they integrate the topic. Fingers crossed! Watch it tonight...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Would You Donate Your Embryos for Stem Cell Research? (I had the chance...)

President Obama lifted the Bush administration's restrictions on federally financed human embryonic stem cell research. Fertile Hope is in an interesting position in this debate. On one hand, the cancer community has been waiting for this day for a long time and is celebrating the news. On the other hand, the fertility community is the keeper of a lot of the embryos that may one-day be used for research. So, I wonder, would you donate your extra embryos for stem cell research? I had the opportunity to make that decision during one of my IVF cycles and it was quite an interesting experience...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tickets on Sale Now - SELF Workout in the Park

Fertile Hope is proud to be the beneficiary of SELF's Workout in the Park again in 2009. With special recession-friendly pricing - only $15 per person (which includes a 1 year subscription to SELF magazine if you buy online!) - knockout workouts, beauty treatments and free product samples, you've got to go! Not to mention, Fertile Hope is one of three ticket sales beneficiaries. We'll be handing out awesome product samples and coupons at our table. Stop by or volunteer. Here are the cities and dates:

  • April 25 - San Diego
  • May 9 - New York City
  • May 16 - Chicago
Could there be a better way to support your favorite charity? Buy your tickets now!

Egg Freezing for Social Reasons - Acceptable?

Cancer patients always receive the "get out of jail free card" when it comes to egg freezing, but "social" egg freezing is a bit more controversial. Check out this video of my presentation on egg freezing from the patient perspective. I just received the clip and thought it might spark some feedback from all of you. What do you think?

Monday, March 16, 2009

OMG! Cancer Summit in NYC - Free Tickets Now Available!

Fertile Hope is proud to participate in the OMG! Cancer Summit in New York City in May. I'll be moderating the cancer and fertility session and our fabulous fertility expert, Dr. Elizabeth Fino from NYU Fertility Center, will lead the discussion and answer your most burning questions. Space is limited and we are expecting a full house (thanks to a performance by cancer survivor Kevin Hearn of the Bare Nakes Ladies!). Register now (it's free!)!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Funding Opportunity - NIH Challenge Grant on Ethical Issues Posed by Emerging Technologies

The NIH has designated at least $200 million of President Obama's Stimulus Package budget for a new initiative called the NIH Challenge Grants in Health and Science Research. In light of the the controversial subjects often associated with cancer and fertility, I thought that this opportunuty might be of interest to our scientific community:

02-OD(OSP)-101* Unique Ethical Issues Posed by Emerging Technologies. Advances in biotechnology and biomedical science raise novel ethical, legal, and social issues. Research in this area is needed to understand the unique ethical concerns related to emerging technologies (e.g. biotechnology, tissue engineering, nanomedicine, and synthetic biology). These include issues such as dual use research, privacy, safety, intellectual property, commercialization and conflict of interest, among others. Research is also needed to assess how these novel issues are addressed under current oversight and regulatory structures and identify where there may be gaps and/or need for revised or new oversight approaches.

Learn more and apply.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Success in Georgia!

Fertile Hope rallied its members to speak out against a bill that was pending in the Georgia State Senate (SB 169) and our voice was heard! The bill sought to place severe limitations on fertility treatments (in response to the octomom!), some of which had the potential to ban embryo freezing for cancer patients. More than 100,000 letters and emails were sent from the collective cancer and reproductive communities. Additionally, testimony from the Georgia reproductive medicine community, individual patients (including a pregnant breast cancer survivor!), and advocacy groups was heard. As a result, those limitations were removed from the bill, and cryopreservation of embryos is now expressly protected. Ever wonder if your voice can make a difference? This is proof - it can!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Update from the Young Survivors Conference in Dallas

I just received this update to share with you all from our first guest blogger, Alex Exley, Fertile Hope's Program Director:

"I’m heading back from the 9th Annual Conference for Young Women Affected by Breast Cancer hosted by the Young Survival Coalition, Living Beyond Breast Cancer and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. I loved catching up with old friends and meeting new ones, and I especially loved meeting more than a few women who had preserved their fertility through our Sharing Hope program who came by the booth to say, “Thank you!” So many stopped by the booth to say thanks to Fertile Hope, and it seemed to me that of all the women I talked to they had the most positive experience!

Fertile Hope collaborated again this year on the fertility session, and Christine Duffy, MD, MPH whose research focuses on decision making around fertility by women with breast cancer, and who is a survivor herself, gave a great presentation that really homed in on the issues and questions on the mind of the 80+ women in the audience. Allison Rosen, PhD presented the adoption session, which had a great deal of information about international and national adoption possibilities. There were almost as many women in that session. Both sessions were recorded and will be available online at http://www.youngsurvivorsconference.org/.

It was exciting to see the pregnant bellies and glowing cheeks of some survivors this year. One came to the fertility session and shared her story of getting pregnant after having her ovaries removed (she got pregnant through IVF using embryos she had frozen prior to treatment). A lot of women didn’t know that it is possible to carry a pregnancy even if one is in menopause, so it was great to hear her tell her story. Another woman stopped by the fertility session to tell us that she came to this session at the conference four years ago and was anxious about her fertility status then but now four years later she’s pregnant!

As this was my first time attending this conference for Fertile Hope, what was striking to me was talking with so many women who might be in treatment or only weeks out of chemo, but were already planning exactly when and how they were going to start a family. This was true whether or not they had taken steps to preserve their fertility (and most hadn’t). Fertility is not part of the survivorship experience only at the time of diagnosis or when trying to get pregnant or become parents, but it's on women’s minds from the day they are diagnosed until they become mothers once, twice, or four times over."

Did you attend the conference or either of the sessions? What did you think?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Top 5 Ways to Support Your Favorite Charity in a Recession

1. Attend an Event
No matter the state of the economy, we are all still eating, drinking and socializing and fundraising events are a way to do all of this and give back all at the same time. Pick an event with a ticket price that matches what you’d normally spend on a night out. It is such a simple way to get out and give back.

2. Buy brands that give back
This is the easiest way to kill two birds with one stone. Buy something you need from a company that will donate a percent of your purchase to charity. Cause-related marketing – as this is called – is everywhere.

3. Make a few small donations
In economic times like these, many of us don’t have the means to contribute at the levels we used to, so we stop altogether. Instead of skipping the check, consider making a few small donations. If you can no longer give $1,000 – send $250. If you can no longer spare $100 – send $10. Believe me, every penny helps and nonprofits appreciate your support no matter how small or large.

4. Don’t wait until the end of the year
Most people wait to donate until the end of the year in the midst of holiday shopping, stress, and over-spending. Instead, try donating in April (when you are reminded how beneficial those tax write-offs are!), summer months (when you are spending more time engaged in free activities like lazy days at the beach) or any other time of the year when there may be a little more flexibility in your budget.

5. Share your talents pro bono
Yes, this is a fancy way to say volunteer. But, when you hear volunteer you think stuffing envelopes and other non-glamorous activities. Instead, offer your talents to your favorite charities pro bono. Accountant? Offer to do their books. Graphic designer? Design a brochure or event invitation. Musician? Play at an event. PR expert? Create a media plan or send a press release to help the organization get highlighted by the media. There is no end to how you can help and it can be much more fun and rewarding than stuffing envelopes.

Do you have any other ideas to share on how to support your favorite charity in a recession?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Will Cancer be Cured in Our Lifetime?

President Obama made a commitment in his first address to Congress this week to seek a cure for cancer in our lifetime. Watch the video. Do you think it will happen?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Research Update - New England Journal of Medicine Recognizes Importance of Cancer and Fertility

An article written by the Oncofertility Consortium's leader, Dr. Teresa Woodruff, was published today in the New England Journal of Medicine about cancer and fertility. The review paper describes current and emerging options for fertility preservation for cancer patients. This is another great validation of Fertile Hope's mission and fantastic way to continue to raise awareness in the medical community. Check it out...

p.s. Know of any other recent articles on cancer and fertility? Let us know.

Cancer Makes Primetime - Will Fertility Come Up?

Everyone used to tell me that I should try out for Donald Trump's show, The Apprentice. I always laughed, but was secretly flattered. It would have been an unbelievable way to raise awareness about Fertile Hope, but I was always too shy to try out. This Sunday, The Celebrity Apprentice will premiere on NBC and includes two testicular cancer survivors, Scott Hamilton and Tom Green - both of whom, I believe, banked their sperm prior to treatment. I always love it when cancer makes primetime and hope that fertility comes up, especially with Scott who is now a dad. Will you watch?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Looking for the Perfect Baby Gift?

We’ve got it! Serena and Lily - the makers of the most luxurious nursery bedding - donated gorgeous stroller blankets to Fertile Hope for our Baby Blanket Program. Donate a minimum of $50 and we’ll send a blanket to you – or anyone you know with a new baby on the way, adoption in the works, toddler running around or grandparents awaiting a visit of their grandchildren. This is such a great way to buy what you need and support us at the same time. Supplies are limited and the blankets are too beautiful to stick around for long – act fast!

p.s. They are available in Harper (pink), Jordan (green) and William (blue).

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Educate Me: Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Cancer-Related Infertility

Last week I was inundated with emails about complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Requests for referrals. Questions about its viability to help with cancer, infertility and other medical conditions. Inquiries about my personal experiences and beliefs. The volume of requests in one week sent me down memory lane to a time when I was obsessed with CAM. This was, of course, when I was in the midst of my cancer crisis. I tried it all. I have my own miracle stories as well as spooky experiences. There are things I’ve incorporated into my daily life and others I’ll never do again. From my perspective, CAM doesn’t seem to be as popular in the fertility world as it is in the cancer world, but the area is growing. Where the two overlap – in our world of cancer and fertility – there seem to be a lot of unanswered questions. For example, you are born with all of the eggs you will ever have and once they are destroyed there is nothing anyone can do to bring them back. Is there a role for CAM here? Please educate me. Can CAM help cancer survivors preserve their fertility? Can it help with pregnancy after cancer? Patients, survivors and I want to know more…

Monday, February 23, 2009

What Does the Economic Stimulus Plan Mean for Cancer and Fertility?

As a liberal democrat married to a conservative republican, I am hearing a lot of great debates about the merits (and pitfalls) of President Obama's stimulus plan, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. After reading the Act’s Press Summary (and the LiveStrong Blog), I thought the following might be of interest to you:
  • $10 billion to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for biomedical research in areas such as cancer and stem cells (including at least $1.2 billion for cancer research).
  • $1 billion to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for prevention and wellness programs including cancer screening and education programs and, maybe, infertility (if we can get it recognized by the CDC as a disease!).
  • 65% federal subsidy for COBRA health insurance premiums for up to nine months for workers who lose their jobs from September 1, 2008 through December 31, 2009.
  • $19 billion for a national health information technology system to support electronic medical records in hopes of lowering medical costs and improving quality of care (which would also greatly help with improved informed consent around cancer-related infertility).

I would love to know more. Anyone have any additional knowledge, insight or opinions as to how this will affect the cancer and/or fertility communities?

Are You a "Young Invincible?"

Uninsured Young Adults, Do-It-Yourself Healh Care, published last week in the New York Times, is causing quite a stir in the young adult cancer community. Does the article describe you?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Zagat Expands to Doctor Reviews: Love It or Hate It?

Zagat and Wellpoint are joining forces to provide doctor reviews and ratings by patients. What do you think? Would you rate your doctor? Would you use a rating?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

What Is In It For Me?

Ages ago I took a fundraising class and was told that the #1 message in any proposal we submit needs to be what is in it for the funder. What recognition and benefits do they get in return for their money? For a few years there seemed to be a backlash against this - mostly around the notion that pharma was influencing educational content and programs through grants. This fall we ran a test, accidentally.

Fertile Hope sent out a request to corporate donors asking them to support us just because – just because we are a great organization, we spend your donations wisely, the long-term benefit of your support will benefit your business, we’ve proven time and again that we are effectively meeting people’s needs and growing the market, etc, etc, etc. The return rate was dismal. Coincidentally, two months later, we sent out a request to the same companies asking them to support us in a way that also promotes them. The return rate was phenomenal - companies were literally fighting for limited placements and begging to be included! Lesson learned.

Now the key is to continue to come up with creative ways to meet the cancer community’s needs in ways that also have big benefits for our funders. Any ideas?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tired of Pink? Help Us Figure Out How to Bring Infertility Out of the Closet...

Years ago no one talked about breast cancer publicly. It was whispered about in the aisles of the grocery stores, kept behind closed doors, and dealt with in secret and isolation. Now, it is on billboards in Times Square! This is exactly what needs to happen with infertility. We are still in the whisper phase and need to figure out how to get to Times Square.

Today, I was in a great meeting brainstorming with a diverse group of leaders from the reproductive community. The meat of our conversation was how to change this – specifically, how the entire reproductive community can work together to increase awareness and improve access.

I truly believe that we can achieve more together than we can alone, which is why meetings like this get me very fired up. The key is to make sure that the conversation doesn’t stop with the meeting. So, while we all digest all of the ideas discussed and before we move forward with any new programs, I want to solicit your advice. How do you want to see us remove the infertility stigma and increase access to treatments?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My Ovaries Are D-E-A-D, Dead...

I love my job, but like everyone I have good days and bad days. There are definitely times, especially in this economy, when I question why I do what I do. Almost immediately after my mind heads down this path, something reminds me why I should stay the course. Last week, while on vacation and daydreaming about giving it all up and moving to the mountains to ski forever, I received the following email from a survivor who Fertile Hope approved for financial assistance for egg freezing through our Sharing Hope program:

“Just found out... My ovaries are d-e-a-d, dead. Thanks to you, I have those seven frozen eggs, hope, and no regrets.”

Needless to say, Fertile Hope’s work is important and I am here to stay. Check out more inspirational stories or share yours. We all need to stay inspired, right?!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Fertile Hope on Facebook – Waste of Time or Important Communication Vehicle?

Fertile Hope is now on Facebook and trying to ramp up our membership base and maximize our presence. As our team spends valuable time trying to make this happen, I can’t help but wonder: is this a waste of time or an important communication vehicle? If the later, what strategies do you recommend we employ to make sure we get the biggest bang for our buck? Can you recommend examples of companies (non-profit or for-profit) that do it well? While we sort it all out, please “join” our cause on Facebook.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

How Have the Costs of Cancer Impacted You?

The American Cancer Society and the Kaiser Family Foundation released a report titled “Spending to Survive” illustrating the financial burdens faced by cancer patients, who often face enormous medical costs even when they have health insurance. People often ask me why the financial eligibility criteria for our Sharing Hope financial assistance program are so high ($75-100,000 for women and $50-75,000 for men) and this is exactly why. Everyone knows that the cost of cancer is high, if you don’t have insurance. But few people know that even with insurance, people are spending so much. These costs coupled with cost of sperm banking ($1,500), egg and embryo freezing ($15,000), surrogacy ($100,000) or adoption ($25,000) can make parenthood after cancer unattainable. How have you been impacted by these costs?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Octuplets Story Continues – Does the “Baby Business” Need to be Regulated?

There is a lot to talk about when it comes to the story of the octuplets, but what strikes me as the most concerning is the regulation question. Should reproductive clinics – and their patients – be regulated on matters like how many embryos should be transferred into a woman’s uterus? And, if so, who should be the regulator? The media keeps looking to the government, which is one avenue – one that I am guessing is not favored by the reproductive clinics. Another method of regulation is insurance companies. When something is covered by insurance there are rules around what they will and will not cover. Generally speaking, insurance companies don’t pay for experimental procedures; treatments outside the scope of the industry’s standard of care (e.g. which would help enforce ASRM’s guidelines); etc. This leaves me wondering: can we seize this opportunity and kill two birds with one stone? Improved regulation and increased access…

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Nauseous from Chemo or Pregnancy? ShopNBC Wednesday for Relief!

Chemo was rough, but like most grim things in life the memory of it faded with time. That is, until I was pregnant with Paisley and morning sickness became a daily reminder. Fortunately, by the time I was pregnant with Walker, I didn’t have to experience this constant chemo reminder – a fantastic new product had been launched, Psi Bands. What, you ask, are Psi Bands? Here is an excerpt from their website:

“Psi Bands (pronounced "Sigh Bands") are acupressure wrist bands for the relief of nausea due to morning sickness (pregnancy), motion sickness/ travel, chemotherapy, and anesthesia. Unlike any product on the market, Psi Bands are: Drug-free, Adjustable, Comfortable, Fashionable, Waterproof, Reusable, and Affordable. FDA-cleared Psi Bands are a stylish alternative for those who suffer from nausea."

Fertile Hope received samples in advance of an introductory call we were scheduled to have with the founders, so we happened to have a few sets laying around the office one morning when I was green. I tried them on and, voila, they worked like magic! I was in love – and so is the media. They’ve been featured in FitPregnancy, SELF, O, The Oprah Magazine and more! Even better, $1/band from the sale of the Cherry Blossom band is donated to Fertile Hope. Watch ShopNBC tomorrow, Wednesday, February 11, at 2 AM, 7 AM, or 4 PM (CST) for a great deal – or buy them anytime at drugstore.com.

Ever tried them? Tell us what you think…

Monday, February 9, 2009

Research Update - Pregnancy Has No Effect on Breast Cancer Survival

The largest single-institution study to look at pregnant breast cancer patients published a study today in Cancer (online). Researchers from MD Anderson Cancer Center reported that young women who develop breast cancer during their pregnancy, or who are diagnosed within one year of their pregnancy, have no difference in rates of local recurrence, distant metastases and overall survival compared to other young women with the disease. However, pregnancy contributed to a delay in breast cancer diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment, so it is reccomended that primary care and fertility doctors should be aggressive in the workup of breast symptoms in the pregnant population to expedite diagnosis and allow multidisciplinary treatment. The researchers estimate that approximately 10% of breast cancer patients under the age of 40 develop the disease during pregnancy. Here is a link to the abstract.

Breast cancer patients and survivors (and the healthcare professionals who treat you), please tell us what you think...

This is Why I Wanted to Survive!

First smiles. First steps. First words. First day on skis! These are the moments when my heart swells, my eyes well up with tears, time freezes and I think: this is why I wanted to survive! There are a million reasons to fight cancer. For me, motherhood was at the top of the list. What fuels your fight?

Research Update - Great News for Endometrial Cancer Patients

A study just published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology concluded that fertility-sparing surgeries that leave the ovaries intact are safe for premenopausal women with early-stage endometrial cancer. Here is a link to the abstract.

What does this mean for you or your patients? Any success stories to share?

Friday, February 6, 2009

Using Your Frozen Eggs? Be a Part of HOPE!

Cancer patients helped spark and propel the egg-freezing craze in the United States. And, now, for those of you who are ready to go back and use your frozen eggs to try to get pregnant, there is a clinical trial for you to participate in – the HOPE Registry run by EMD Serono. The registry will collect data to help answer questions like:
  1. How many eggs do I need to freeze to have a baby?
  2. Which egg freezing technique should I use – slow freezing or fast freezing (vitrification)?
  3. Will my baby be healthy?

The trial is only as good as the number of people who participate – the more the better. Participating is a cinch. You don’t have to do anything. Your reproductive doctor just signs you up and then anonymously shares your data with the trial. So, if you or anyone you know is using their frozen eggs, ask your fertility doctor to sign you up. What do you think – would you participate?

Research Update - New Study Says Fertility Drugs Not Linked to Ovarian Cancer

One of the largest studies to look at whether fertility drugs increase the risk of ovarian cancer found “no convincing association" as published in the British Medical Journal on Thursday. Here is a link to the abstract.

Do you worry about a risk of cancer from fertility drugs?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Can You Let Go of Balance and Still Have It All?

Up late working again after an early morning in the gym, long day in the office, double dinner-bath-story-bed-time with the kids, laundry, packing and a just-barely-squeezed-in-but-lovely dinner with my husband, I am reminded of the conversation that set me free. One rough day, after finishing up a great meeting with a big sponsor only to discover my sweater was covered with yogurt from that one last extra hug good-bye from the kids, I needed a pep talk.

I called my hero to ask her – how do you do it? My hero happens to be the woman who saved my life (twice!), Dr. Nancy Snyderman, and as if that’s not enough to make a superhero, she always seemed to have it all – and it all under control. I wanted - no needed - her secret!

I told her that I was struggling to balance work, motherhood, friendship, romance, travel, and everything else on my to-do list. I fought so hard for this life, but now I am struggling to keep up with it. Her secret shocked me. “Forget balance!” she said. If balance is the goal you will constantly fail. Give it up. You can't be great at everything everyday. But, she said, you can have it all!

Do you agree? What’s more important to you - balance or having it all? Do you feel like you have either?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Take Our Poll - Should Nonprofit Organizations Sell Ad Space on their Websites?

Until recently, my answer to this question was a firm no. The Fertile Hope team knew not to broach the subject with me. I wouldn’t budge. Until last week, when we opened intake for our annual Cancer & Fertility Referral Guide and, gasp, we are selling online ads.

What changed? A lot. My job is to do what is best for our users. Patients and survivors keep telling us that they want more information, more customization, more, more, more. They want it easier, faster and all for free. We used to be able to meet these needs through big corporate grants, but the landscape of fundraising is changing and those grants are not as easy to come by. So, we had to get creative. Can we tie meeting a patient need with a diversified, sustainable revenue stream?

We checked out the market to see how others do it. What is WebMD’s revenue model? Ad sales. BabyCenter? Ad sales. What do you think? Take our poll. Does this take away from the credibility of the information we provide? Would you rather have no ads and no information or ads and the information and tools you need? Would you rather pay for the information yourself? While we wait to hear the verdict – please buy your ads!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Cancer, You Said I’d Never Bear Children. My Daughter Says You’re Wrong.


When I started Fertile Hope no one – I mean no one – talked about cancer and fertility. When I would tell people what I did for a living, they would look at me funny and ask: what does cancer have to do with fertility? So, you can imagine my surprise when I opened up New York Times Magazine recently and saw an ad by Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center that said: “Cancer, You said I’d never bear children. My daughter says you’re wrong.” Yes, a full page ad in a mainstream magazine about cancer and fertility!

I used to meet with the leaders of large cancer centers around the country and hear the same thing, time and time again - patients don’t think fertility is important; more complete informed consent isn't necessary (e.g., it was ok to sterilize patients without their full knowledge!), etc. Really they were saying that it shouldn’t be discussed with everyone (as shown in studies, this generally meant poor patients, gay patients or very sick patients).

Now, a few short years later, these subjective judgments are being challenged - one of the biggest cancer centers in the world is promoting improved cancer-related fertility care as the reason to get treated there. Wow! We’ve come a long way. . .

p.s. The woman featured in the ad is a cervical cancer survivor who underwent a fertility-sparing surgery at MSKCC. We salute Fertile Hope’s Medical Advisory Board member, Dr. Yukio Sonoda, who worked along with Dr. Nadeem Abu-Rustum to help bring this procedure to the US from France and make it available to MSKCC patients.

Monday, February 2, 2009

How Can You Prove You Had Cancer?

Did you see Erin Zammett Ruddy’s article in Glamour about the woman (pictured) who faked cancer?! Supposedly, it is happening more and more. These fakers are trying to access some of the perks of being in the "cancer club" like free retreats, scholarships and financial assistance. Fertile Hope is looking to expand its portfolio of financial assistance programs and keeps running into this question – how does someone prove they had cancer? We can verify income with the IRS, citizenship with a Social Security number, and age with a Driver’s License, but cancer is hard to prove. Are you listening LAF? Like AARP, I want a LIVESTRONG card with benefits! Any other ideas?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Maternity Goddess Liz Lange Speaks Out About Cervical Cancer

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, so Fertile Hope Board Member and fashion designer, Liz Lange, is helping to spread the word. Liz is a cervical cancer survivor who became infertile from her treatments. Liz was very private about her experience until about a year ago when she told the world her story in Glamour magazine. These days, the maternity goddess isn’t keeping quiet. She joined forces with the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation to help women understand the consequences that cervical cancer can have on your life, including infertility. My favorite quote from her:

I'm supposed to be the queen of maternity chic, and here I am about to have a hysterectomy... I do think I wanted more children, or at least I didn’t want the decision to be made for me.

Who does?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Top 5 Reasons to Host a Hope Uncorked Wine Tasting

Are you looking for an inexpensive way to see your friends, drink great wine, donate to charity and keep up with your favorite magazines all at the same time? Fertile Hope has the answer: Hope Uncorked.
  1. 1. A Free Wine Tasting Kit
    We send you a free wine tasting kit with everything you need to host the event including wine glasses, bottle openers, scorecards, wine sleeves, and more!

2. A Good Excuse to Get Together with Friends
You can host your event anywhere (home, office, art gallery, country club, etc.) at anytime by simply doing what you already do – drinking wine with your friends. For a $25 tasting fee, less than a typical night out, your guests have the perfect reason to get together.

3. Stress-Free Planning
From invitations to reminders to RSVPs, our online system does all of that work for you. All you have to do is pick up some wine (or ask your guests to bring their favorite bottle!) and host your party.

4. Receive Fantastic Gifts
Hosts and their guests receive fantastic guest goodies, including Uncorked, a wine tasting guide by Women & Wine® and Sofitel®, and a one-year subscription to your choice of Cookie, Glamour, Gourmet, GQ or SELF magazine (a $12 value).

5. Change the Course of Someone’s Life
Not only will you raise awareness and provide life changing information about parenthood after cancer to your peers, but your support will allow Fertile Hope to empower cancer patients with the information they need to turn their parenthood after cancer dreams into reality!

Host an event and change someone’s life.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

News Flash - Can You Imagine Having Octuplets?

Did you see the news about octuplets born to a woman in California? These stories usually infuriate me. They make the reproductive world look reckless and ruin it for those of us who play by the rules. I was thrilled to see the following reported by CNN:

"The media should not make this into heroic case. This is anything but a heroic case. This is very bad medicine."

What is your take on stories like this?

What is the Best Way to Reach You? Cancer Survivor Conferences (or Bars)?!

Every year Fertile Hope participates in a number of conferences for cancer survivors. Some are amazing and highly attended. Others don’t seem to catch on and few people attend. As a cancer survivor, I often ask myself – if I wasn’t in the “industry” would I even know about these events? And, if I did, would I attend? As part of the Fertile Hope team, I often ask myself – are these conferences the best way to reach you? At a President’s Cancer Panel meeting a few years ago someone asked Lance Armstrong: what is the best way to reach young adult cancer survivors? His response: at bars! Chins hit the floor! It was hysterical and true – more people in our demographic go out to bars than attend survivor conferences. So, tell me, what is the best way to reach you?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Longing for Baby #3 - Crazy in this Economy?

I can hardly believe that my son Walker is almost a year old! We conceived him shortly after my daughter Paisley turned one and, as his first birthday approaches, I find myself longing for Baby #3. It doesn’t help that I am surrounded by cancer and fertility on a daily basis and that one of my co-workers is pregnant and looking fabulous in her Liz Lange maternity clothes! I’ve always said I want four or five kids – and, then, cancer put it all at risk. There were a lot of dark times when I never thought that I would be a mom. Now, fortunately, I know what works for us, but it is expensive! As the economy crumbles, I wonder – should we just be happy with where we are or should we try for another baby? Three complicates everything – from housing (outgrowing our tiny 2-bedroom apartment in NYC!) to transportation (do they even make a triple stroller?!) to cost (IVF through college!). Cancer taught me to shoot for the stars and live the life of my dreams. Now, I guess I am wondering – is a big family still my dream? If the economy was in better shape, would I even be having these thoughts? I can’t tell if I am being practical or crazy. Will I look back in 10 years when the economy is soaring high and regret not shooting for the stars?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Educational Brochures - To Print or Not to Print?

A few trends are weighing on Fertile Hope's educational outreach strategy and I’d love your input. First, the trends… everyone is going green. The economy has seen better days. Our target demographic is young adult cancer patients and survivors – a demographic that lives online. Next, the dilemma… we are wondering if we need to continue to develop, print and distribute patient educational brochures or if you’d rather find all of the information online? Online only is attractive – it’s cheap, its green and we can provide deeper, more customized information like you see with our Comparison Tool, Risk Calculator and Options Calculator. Offline has its benefits too – although it is costly to design, print and mail, it has a physical presence in your doctor’s office, patient libraries and cancer centers across the country. Is it still important to be in both places?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Who Knew That You Can FedEx Sperm?!

What would you do if you were a young man diagnosed with cancer today and told that your treatments would render you infertile? Look for a sperm bank, right? What if you lived in one of the states in the US where a sperm bank doesn’t exist? Or, what if you needed to start chemo immediately and you couldn't leave the hospital? Historically, these scenarios meant that you couldn’t bank your sperm. Now there is the Live:On kit – thanks to a partnership between Fertile Hope, the Lance Armstrong Foundation and Cryogenic Laboratories, Inc. Yes, the Live:On kit allows men (and mature boys) to FedEx their sperm to the sperm bank! While slightly less effective than banking at an on-site clinic (approximately 10% less motility (aka speed) has been seen), it is far better than the alternative – not banking and forgoing your best option for having a biological child after cancer. It gets better – the kit is free for nurses to order and hand out at cancer centers. So, please tell me, how do we get the word out about it and make sure the kit is available in every cancer center in the country (on a tight non-profit budget!)?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

ABC's Private Practice Features "Oncofertility" Storyline

The TV series Private Practice, ABC’s spin-off of Grey’s Anatomy starring actress Kate Walsh, is one of the first shows to integrate “oncofertility” into its storyline. Anyone catch an episode? Are they covering the topic well? Watch tonight (Thursdays at 10/9C) and tell us what you think!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

How Do You Choose a Doctor?

A good friend just called me looking for a recommendation to a good doctor. We talked through a lot of the factors she was evaluating and, then, I couldn’t help but laugh after we’d narrowed down the list and she made her final decision based on availability. In her case, it made perfect sense. She had narrowed it down to two of the top doctors in the country. She couldn't make a wrong choice. But, I still found it amusing that the final decision-making factor was who could see her first. This conversation happened while Fertile Hope is in the midst of completely revamping the cancer and fertility “Find a Doctor” tool on our website. So, I can’t help but wonder: what factors are most compelling to you when choosing a doctor? What information and tools can we provide to help make the process easier for you? And, ultimately, when you have gathered all of the information you can possibility find, what is the deal breaker? Availability?!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Audacity of (Fertile) Hope

Wow, today was inspiring! As I watched the inauguration coverage, I was struck by the shared experience of hope in a time of great uncertainty. Whether you are referring to the war, the economy or a new cancer diagnosis, believing in your ability to change, improve or solve the problem at hand is very hopeful. I never realized how audacious hope was until, in the face of cancer, I hoped to be a mom one day. I was still full of fearless, bold, daring hopes when I started Fertile Hope in October 2001. My first hope was that all cancer patients would be informed of their fertility risks. We’ve made great progress in achieving this. My second hope was access to fertility treatments for cancer patients. During the Bush administration we lobbied on Capitol Hill, but quickly realized there was no hope for a fertility coverage mandate, so we stopped wasting our resources. Today, my audacious (Fertile) Hope is that President Obama’s administration will make a commitment to access by improving insurance coverage for fertility preservation for cancer patients. What is yours?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Would You Risk Your Life to Have a Baby?

Today, I spent the day with my good friend Erin Zammett Ruddy, a freelance writer and a columnist and blogger for glamour.com, and her son, Alex. As our children played together, I couldn’t help but think how lucky we both are – cancer survivors and moms. When we were diagnosed with cancer, the idea of future parenthood seemed so audacious and extravagant. We’ve both been asked on more than one occasion - shouldn’t you just be happy you are alive? Of course, we are happy to be alive! Aren’t you? But, just like you, we want to live amazing lives and, for us, that includes having kids. Erin’s story is unique. She had chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) and for the last six years has been treated with Gleevec. The drug that saved her life doesn’t cause infertility in women, but you can't take it while you are pregnant. If you stop taking it, you risk the cancer coming back and the drug not working for you anymore. Quite a dilemma. With her oncologist’s approval, Erin went off Gleevec to conceive Alex and nothing went awry. Her cancer didn’t come back and Gleevec continues to work for her. So now, a year and half later, she is longing for another baby and wondering – do I risk my life again for a baby? As Alex plays with Paisley and Walker, it is hard for me to argue against it. I have two children – and want more. I get it. As Fertile Hope's Founder & Executive Director, it is also hard for me not to try to solve this dilemma other ways – IVF, surrogacy, adoption, etc. Erin’s done her homework on all of those options and knows they aren’t right for her (read more here). What would you do?

Friday, January 16, 2009

1st Baby Born After Being Screened for Breast Cancer as an Embryo - Would You Screen?


What do you think of the news that the first baby to have been screened before conception for a genetic form of breast cancer has been born in Britain? Many articles report that women who carry this gene have an 80% chance of developing breast cancer and a 60% chance of developing ovarian cancer during their lifetime. However, carrying the gene does not make cancer inevitable, which makes use of preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) in this way a topic of great bioethical debate. Personally, I must admit that I am a big fan of PGD. My daughter, Paisley, is a PGD baby. The technology allowed my husband and I screen for a genetic abnormality that would cause severe birth defects and mental retardation. If your cancer had a gene, would you use PGD to screen for it and try to avoid passing it along?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Lance Armstrong Conceives Naturally 10+ Years After Testicular Cancer – Against All Odds or Normal?

Fertile Hope has been inundated with questions since the reports by the media that Lance Armstrong conceived naturally more than 10 year after his treatment for testicular cancer, and after using his banked sperm with in vitro fertilization (IVF) to conceive three children. The news is incredibly hopeful, but also confusing. Do cancer treatments affect fertility permanently? How long does it take for sperm production to come back? Should patients still bank sperm? We took these questions and more to our Medical Advisory Board and published the answers in our online newsletter. I’d love to know what you think. Healthcare professionals – will this change if/how you talk about sperm banking with cancer patients? Cancer patients and survivors – will you still bank? How long will you keep banked sperm? How often will you get your sperm counts checked? My list of questions is endless. Please, tell us what this means to you.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Who Told You Cancer Treatments Might Cause Infertility? Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Tells All Patients...

Every year 140,000 new patients are diagnosed with cancer under the age of 45 and our goal is to make sure that 100% of them are told if their cancer treatments will cause infertility. Today, we are 400 patients closer to that goal. Fertile Hope runs an amazingly simple, yet effective program to help ensure that all newly diagnosed cancer patients are informed of their fertility risks – Centers of Excellence. How does it work? Check out the application – in brief, we simply award cancer centers for doing the right thing. I am thrilled to report that the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is now a Fertile Hope Center of Excellence. CHOP sees approximately 400 new patients under the age of 18 every year and now has systems in place to make sure that each and every one of them is given information about their fertility risks. How did you find out?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Fundraising Events in a Recession – Will You Still Attend?

Nonprofit organizations dedicate a lot of time and money every year to hosting fundraising events like Fertile Hope's acclaimed Hope Uncorked wine tasting events. We’ve always prided ourselves on hosting fun, fabulous events – not your usual rubber chicken dinners where you are stuck at a table with the people you work with all day - and like to think that even in a recession you will still attend. However, we don't want to pull it altogether only to have no one show up. One one hand, it feels extravagant in a bad economy. On the other hand, it can be a cost-effective way to multi-task - get together with friends; enjoy good food and an open bar (tickets are often less than you'd spend on a night of food and drinks out on the town); find a few steals on your favorite products in the silent auction; and support your favorite charity. What will you attend? Skip? Why?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Welcome - And Advice Please!

I am thrilled to announce the launch of the Fertile Hope blog! I have to admit that it is my personal ignorance that has kept the organization in the dark ages. Thanks to our brilliant team, we are finally joining the world of blogs. Welcome. Now, I need your advice. As a self proclaimed technology dinosaur, I am not exactly a blogging whiz. My vision for this blog is to be a useful place for information, discussion and feedback. So, tell me – is that realistic? What do you want out of the Fertile Hope blog? What do you want me to post? And, not post?