December 04, 2023

Fertile Hope

Don’t hate me, but I have never had one ounce of interest in passing through my crotch an object the size of a cantaloupe. Nor do I want to give up the life of writing till 5 AM and sleeping until 11 AM (okay, truth be told, I really sleep till 1 PM if I can). I have never wanted to have kids, but if I did, I would adopt. It kills me to think of all the kids living in my own damn city without parents. So, if my cancer destroyed my ability to have children I would only think of it as a contraceptive blessing. Other young adult cancer patients’ worse nightmare – being infertile – would be to me, a gift.

Frankenstein Fertility
I don’t actually know if I can get pregnant, because I never have been and have never tried. Thyroid cancer does not have a particularly high risk of infertility, but many other cancers do. When writing my book I met many men and women for whom fertility was a big concern, and for some the largest emotional challenge of the entire cancer experience. Assuming that I am fertile, I wish I could just make some kind of Frankensteinian contraption and flip a switch that would transmit my fertility into their body and their infertility into mine. Since that is not a practical solution, here is something else that is:

The Calculator
Fertile Hope, a non-profit founded by Lindsay Nohr Beck, has long had a fertility risk calculator on their website. But, just this month they launched a fertility options calculator too. Click a few check boxes about your health status and treatments, and it will guide you through your options, and even connect you to doctors and adoption agencies in your area. As a young adult cancer patient, you often have to advocate hard for information and care regarding fertility. Most doctors do not bring it up with patients, nor have much information to provide. If having babies matters to you, do your homework at

Have you brought up fertility issues with your doctor or did they raise them with you? Were they very educated on the subject or did you have to seek the information yourself?

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  1. Anonymous Says:
    December 5th, 2008 at 11:49 AM

    Kairol — this comment does not address your post, but it does pick up on another theme you address regularly, the availability of health insurance.

    The first line: "For these economically uncertain times, the UnitedHealth Group has a 'first of its kind' product: the right to buy an individual health policy at some point in the future even if you become sick."

    First, a link to NPR's Planet Money, where I first became aware of this story article:

    Then a link to the NY Times article:

  2. Anonymous Says:
    December 5th, 2008 at 12:56 PM

    I am a beneficiary of Fertile Hope’s programs and their generosity towards me was incredible. As a 25 year old with MDS facing a bone marrow transplant knowing that their is a future to look forward to after this is what keeps me going.

  3. Everything Changes Says:
    December 5th, 2008 at 1:32 PM

    Hey guys,

    Comment #1: I am so glad you have found Fertile Hope and can give a ringing endorsement! Some patients are super concerned about fertility but are too overwhelmed with their cancer care to make the first step of contacting an organization. I hope your comment motivates them!

    Comment #2: Are you psychic? United Healthcare the next post I am going to write about. When I read it in the NYTimes I was fuming mad and to told myself: Breathe deep, count to ten, write a post.

    Over and out,


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