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...


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?