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.


  1. so glad to see MSKCC promoting commitment to quality of life issues and not just cure-at-costs totally extreme measures. hats off!

  2. This is a really powerful ad. It catches my eye every time I see it in the NYT, and that's before I even know it's about a subject I care about.

  3. I love, love, love this ad!