Imagine sitting in the doctor’s office and being told that you have cancer. Perhaps those of us with infertility can imagine that more readily because the stress associated with the diagnosis of infertility has been compared to that of cancer. And sadly, the similarities don’t end there.
Reeling from this scary diagnosis, you are somewhat relieved to hear that there are effective treatments to fight your cancer. Good news: You will live. Bad news:These treatments may cause infertility. Good news: You can preserve your fertility by preserving your eggs or sperm before treatment. Bad news: This fertility preservation is not covered by insurance, so you must pay for this out of pocket. And you must do it very quickly so your cancer treatment can begin. Costs for fertility preservation can run as high as $24,000 or more.
This one-two punch hits tens of thousands of cancer patients each year, as 9% of all cancer patients are diagnosed in their reproductive years, the majority of which are at risk for iatrogenic (or medically-induced) infertility from their treatment. Iatrogenic infertility may also affect people undergoing treatment for sickle cell anemia, lupus, and other autoimmune diseases.
Given these dire circumstances, patients may choose less effective cancer treatments in order to save their fertility. This can lead to disastrous, and costly, results if their cancer is not cured or treated properly. Others may abandon their dreams of becoming a parent. This can lead to depression and other life-long issues. If survivorship from cancer is possible, studies show the number one concern after survivorship is “Will I be able to have kids?” “For many cancer patients, the desire for parenthood provides hope during a dark time – it helps to define what survivorship is all about,” according to Joyce Reinecke, Executive Director, Alliance for Fertility Preservation.
RESOLVE believes that patients should not have to choose between effective medical treatment and a future chance at parenthood. That is why we have teamed up with cancer organizations to form the Coalition to Protect Parenthood after Cancer. “If you are diagnosed with cancer in your fertile years, you have a fundamental civil liberty to be given cost-effective options to preserve your fertility,” says Matthew Zachary, Founder/CEO, Stupid Cancer. Adds Reinecke, “Joining together as a Coalition helps magnify our voices on behalf of those we serve.”
People with cancer and other diseases should have the option of affordable access to fertility preservation. If it’s an access to care issue, you can rest assured that RESOLVE is on the front lines. We have been monitoring and supporting oncofertility legislation in several states, including CT, HI, KY, MD, MS, and NY, that would mandate fertility preservation insurance coverage for cancer patients. Our message to lawmakers is clear: there is a simple solution that saves lives, allows patients to follow their treatment protocol, and gives them the hope and promise of a family: provide health insurance for fertility preservation procedures.
As with all advocacy efforts, we must amplify this message with patient voices to get lawmakers to pay attention. Share this blog with your networks to raise awareness about fertility preservation and the need for insurance coverage. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you live in one of the above states and want to get involved in passing oncofertility legislation. Or if you want to help get oncofertility legislation introduced in your state.