I had always joked around with my friends about egg freezing. We used to laugh saying, if weren’t married by 30 we were freezing our eggs. Not for a second did I think I was actually going to do it!
When I thought of other people having cancer I never thought about this side of things. I suppose most people are older and already have a family. As soon as I was told I had cancer, the first thing that seemed to get dealt with was my future fertility.
I was expected to decide on the day I was told I had cancer, whether I wanted to have egg preservation just in case my fertility was affected by treatment. I wasn’t ready for children, I wasn’t even in a relationship. Now I was thinking about taking my eggs out and leaving them in a freezer for the future.
The nurse arranged appointments for me very quickly. She said it was rare for someone to qualify for egg preservation on the NHS. Within days I had been fast tracked to see all these different specialists.
I went with my friend S to the first appointment. It was all a bit surreal. A few days before I was told I had cancer and now I was sat at a table being rushed into signing and consenting to freezing my eggs. At this point I didn’t even know how it was going to be done. All I knew was I wanted to have the chance to have children in the future. I’m pretty sure I signed for things that I didn’t even want to happen with my eggs, that’s how rushed it was!
Me and S were hurried around this building, which reminded me of a school. Finally we met a nurse who seemed to be in charge of it all. She had me sign several other forms and by now I was quite fed up of signing my name on about 20 different sheets. The process is usually done over a few weeks but I needed to get mine done soon as possible before chemotherapy started.
The nurse then explained everything in detail. What injections I would get sent, how to mix them up, how to inject them into my tummy, which injections to take at what time and finally my trigger injection.
Honestly, I was so lost, I was really hoping S was listening and would make more sense of it then I did. S told me later that even for a Doctor it was too detailed and confusing. Then the nurse told me she needed to do my internal examination, I wasn’t expecting that. “What like now?!”I asked. “Yes, we need to check you have some eggs left.” she said.
She told me and S where to go and said she would catch us up. As we walked to another part of the building, me and S laughed because the nurse reminded us of someone off a Dallas movie. It was all just a bit crazy. I soon got called in for my internal examination. Do I really have to do this! I thought to myself. Luckily the nurse doing it was really nice and it really wasn’t a nice experience but I was ok.
Two weeks later the big box of injections arrived at home! I was recovering from my mastectomy. I had delayed the injections for a week to give me time to recover from my surgery. I opened it, it was so daunting! So many injections and other bits. I told S my box had arrived, she came round and we went through it all again.
Once I understood it, it didn’t feel to bad. The next morning, I stood there with the injection in my hand looking down at my tummy. I’m usually ok with needles but having to stab myself in the belly, I just couldn’t do it. Only nurses should be doing this, I thought! My mum eventually did it for me. The first one was fine, it didn’t hurt as much as I thought but then we got a bit silly over the next few days. I couldn’t help but laugh each time my mum put on her serious face and glasses and stood there ready with a needle in her hand! It hurt each time she put it in as my tummy shook with laughter!
It’s so easy to joke about egg freezing looking back at it. I can see why people going through IVF get so stressed. If you really understood the amount of effort that goes into it, I can’t believe how many blood tests, the amount of internal examinations you have to have and the nausea and tummy pain. Finally another two weeks later, I was done with the injections and I had been booked for the operation. The nurse called and explained what time I had to take my final trigger shot.
The next day was egg freezing day. I would have to be put under general anaesthetic but I wasn’t scared. I had just been under general anaesthetic for my mastectomy so I knew what to expect. It was a day case procedure and M agreed to come with me. We didn’t really talk about it to much to be honest, it wasn’t as serious, in fact I felt a bit privileged that so much had been done for me in so little time. M told me I was lucky so many people wait months for these appointments and spend a fair bit of money too. Whereas I was fast tracked and almost done.
The day of the operation came. I hated the idea of walking about without any makeup on! Me and M arrived at 7am, we followed the signs down these very old corridors, I remember pipes with foil on, leaks on the floor! We arrived at the door and pressed the bell, nobody came. We stood for about 5 minutes and pressed the bell again. Still nobody, not a person in sight. Finally 15 minutes later as we were beginning to worry, a lovely nurse arrived.
She let us in, it was quite modern inside completely different to the corridors outside. She took us to our little cubicle with its bed. It was nice to have my friend there. We watched as most of the women arrived for the procedure along with their partners. We were convinced the doctors and nurses presumed she was my partner! Soon different doctors came by and made me sign consent forms spoke to me about the procedure. It wasn’t going to be a long procedure just half an hour or so.
When I got to the theatre room the doctor told me to stand up and go to the corner of the room. I wasn’t sure why. He told me to look through a small window. A lady opened up the little window dressed in what I can only describe as the forensic gear. She asked my name and date of birth and then told me this is where my eggs would be stored, then she shut the window.
It was funny, it was like a scene from Ant and Dec’s film Alien Autopsy! The doctor said “Right I want you to shout your name and date of birth so everyone can hear as loud as you can.” whilst they were setting up the equipment. I found this all a bit awkward really but I shouted it, most of the team smiled back. I was then told to go back to the trolley. The anaesthetist took my hand and put in the needle. The last thing I remember was talking to the nurse. When I woke up, I was in the same position chatting to the nurse, I hadn’t even realised the procedure had been done! But 5 minutes later I felt a sharp pain in my stomach and they were ready to take me back to my little cubicle again.
When I got back I saw M just waiting there in her chair. I told her about my experience telling her how bizarre it all was. The nurse popped in, she asked how I was doing and offered me tea and toast. I was just interested to know how many eggs they had retrieved, the exciting part! As I finished my much needed tea and toast she came back. She told me quietly that I had done really well! She told me they had to say it quietly as not everyone does as well with the numbers. I had retrieved 18 eggs and she told us the average was about 8. Me and M laughed that’s really good! Until we overheard the nurse telling the lady next door she had got 32! Come on let’s get out of here I said laughing.