Cancer kids put baby
TEENAGE cancer patients are having their ovaries and sperm frozen so the treatment that saves their lives doesn’t ruin their chances of having children.
Having a baby is one of the last things on a teenager’s mind when faced with a diagnosis of cancer but fertility preservation is now offered to young people, including children, through the Fertility Research Centre in Sydney.
Oncologist and CanTeen fertility expert Dr Antoinette Anazodo said her unit, unique in NSW, must move fast to preserve fertility in the face of a cancer diagnosis.
“Ninety one per cent of our patients are seen by a fertility expert within 24 hours (of a cancer diag- nosis),” Dr Anazodo said. “Our youngest patient is 12, but now we need time for these children to eventually come back ack and use the tissue.”
At age 15, Jenna nna Golub was counselled by Dr Anazodo and her team as soon as she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Within a week, Jenna had her ovarian tissue preserved and then she started chemo.
“I trusted that Dr Anazodo knew what would be best for me in the long run, so I just did it,” she said. The now 19-year-old from Shellharbour is in remission but went into menopause during her HSC. Now she is very grateful she took that advice. “I did go into menopause so I’m very glad I listened because I’ve always loved babies and it’s something I’ve always wanted,” Ms Golub said.
Gorgeous one-year-old Charbel Tadros has been 10 years in the making.
The egg that became him was inside part of an ovary that was surgically removed and frozen before his mother went into a battle for her life. Giselle Tadros was just 21 when she sh was diagnosed with stage four Hodgkin’s kin lymphoma. Before B intense chemotherapy started, it was suggested she safeguard her fertility, which would be destroyed d by treatment. tre “They “T took a third of my ovary o tissue and preserved it and then hit with me with intense chemo,” the now-31-year-old from Penrith said.
After a year of treatment she relapsed and needed a bone-marrow transplant, which also carries a high risk of fertility damage.
It left her perilously thin but it cured her and she went on to marry her sweetheart Jason Tadros in 2014.
When thoughts turned to family, her preserved ovarian tissue was grafted back on to her ovary by a pioneer in the field, Associate Professor Kate Stern from Melbourne IVF. Dr Anazodo’s unit had not started then.
“It took five
I did go into menopause so I'm very glad I listened because I've always loved babies and it's something I've always wanted JENNA GOLUB
rounds of IVF before our beautiful little miracle boy was born on the 23rd of October, 2017,” the proud mum said.
“There is now widespread acknowledgment of the importance to discuss fertility preservation with patients, and it’s no longer experimental with 140 births around the world so far,” Prof Stern said.
For prepubescent boys and girls, ovarian cryopreservation and testicular tissue are taken for future grafts. Eggs and sperm are collected in pubescent children and young adults. Sadly, others have missed the chance.
Kaitlyn O’Kane was just 13 when she was diagnosed with brain cancer. She was offered the same opportunity to freeze her ovarian tissue but the concept overwhelmed her at the time. Last year, at age 21, she found the gruelling chemo had not only left her with permanent hair loss but she was infertile.
“I had a breakdown and severe panic attacks, I’m all right now, but it broke me,” Ms O’Kane said.
CanTeen Australia is campaigning to increase awareness of this issue, which will be highlighted at the Annual Global Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Congress in Sydney from 4-6 December.
Kaitlyn O’Kane with boyfriend Josh Manderson.
Dr Antionette Anazodo.
Giselle Tadros was only able to have baby Charbel thanks to having part of her ovary frozen before her cancer treatment. Picture: Sam Ruttyn