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?


  1. I attended the Dallas conference to become a little more educated about the patient angle and came back a little surprised at the misinformation some women expressed, as Alex mentioned. Since I spend most of my work time in the fertility arena, this conference was very helpful toward increasing my understanding of the need for education about survivors' options for parenthood. In talking with long-time survivors, it was quite evident that so much has changed in recent decades in terms of treatment and hope. I want to express my gratitude to Fertile Hope for charging ahead years ago and pushing the doors open so that survivors can see their future. And it was great to meet folks face to face!

  2. Bravo! Lindsay, you are living proof that cancer patients can strive to have a family through your wonderful organization.