We were in the first year of our marriage in 2017 and our diary was fast becoming full of appointments for the start of IVF, our dream of becoming a family was becoming very real and we both felt excited but nervous at the same time. I am in a same sex relationship and being 34 at the time, I wanted to carry our first child, my wife is a little younger than me, and in my head she still had “more time”…
Speak to any couple, and they will tell you that the whole process with IVF is quite exhausting, you give them every part of you, and you’ll do whatever they want because you want that hope of being able to have your own child. A month or so before looking at dates for our first try of IVF, I was told I had polyps, and for the best success rate, I was advised to have them removed. At the time, I was waiting to start a new job, so I wanted to have this done before taking up my new role. I got booked in and everything went ahead. I had a follow up with my consultant five days later, he was happy with my procedure and gave me a course of oestrogen tablets to take until my next appointment, after which he would be in touch with us to discuss IVF dates.
24 hours later we were watching TV and my mobile rang, to my surprise it was my consultant calling to tell me to stop taking the oestrogen tablets immediately, and asked if I
was able to see him in the clinic within the next 48 hours? I could tell from his tone that this was an uncomfortable conversation for him, and without thinking, I asked him if I should be concerned. I didn’t get any reassurance other than, “can you make Friday at 8pm?” followed by a sweeping comment of “it would be explained to you in the clinic”.
The phone call happened so quickly it was difficult to explain to my Wife how alarming his tone was, as you can imagine, the following 48 hours were very worrying!
Friday 1st June 8pm had arrived, the drive from our home to the clinic, felt like the longest of my life, with very little conversation being shared. Those closest o us knew where we were going, and it was left that we would let them know once we were out. As usual the appointments overran, I knew I was the last to be seen because I had been told to come in at the end of the clinic. With each person going in, I knew it would soon be my turn. I don’t remember an awful lot of what happened next, I know there was a nurse sitting in the corner of the room that smiled at me as I walked in, and my consultant sat across from
us. He started telling me of my recent procedure, there was a lot of language that I didn’t understand, it felt like random words were being thrown at me, every word but cancer so with real hesitation I asked, “Is it cancer? Do I have cancer?” He simply nodded at me.
During this time, my consultant told me it was grade one of endometrium cancer, but “If there was any cancer to get, this is a good one to get, and the recovery rate is very good”. Believe it or not, I didn’t then breathe a sigh of relief, neither did I jump for joy – forgive me, but when you hear ‘cancer’ you think “that’s it, its game over!” You hardly think, “Oh that’s ok, its only grade one, shall we put the kettle on?”
Every three months after that, I was required to go into hospital for ahysteroscopy along with taking medication daily. I really suffered on the medication breaking into hot sweats, for what felt like 24 hours a day! Each time I had the hysteroscopy my results came back with good news, and I was starting to feel positive, and allowing myself to think about carrying our child.
My consultant gave me so much hope each time I saw him, and I was really starting to believe. In total I had 3 hysteroscopies, but later that year, in the week leading up to Christmas, I was told that the cancer had come back.
Looking back, I wasn’t prepared mentally to hear those words again, and still to this day, there is a huge part of me that feels stupid for thinking that the cancer would never return.
After hours, days, and weeks of thinking, I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t able to continue asking myself the “what if’s” of the cancer returning on the new drugs that had been offered. I knew in my heart, that I wasn’t able to hear those words again. This was the hardest decision I have had to make, but I can honestly say I took control of the cancer. I felt the right choice for me was to have a hysterectomy.
I had a hysterectomy on 7th March 2018, just over 8 months on from being told of my cancer. I am now left with the “what if’s” … “What if I hadn’t of been going through IVF?” “Would I have known something wasn’t quite right?” “Would I have acted on it?” “What if I had of tried the new medication, would I be able to carry our child?” The questions never end.
I am now 5 months on from my operation, I am grateful I am here, I am learning to understand and cope with the cancer I had, but I am also grieving that I will never carry our child. Every day I tell myself, small steps…