I just realized I haven't updated my blog in a few days. There are two major developments that have happened:
First, I got a call on Tuesday from the psychologist my husband and I are scheduled to see next Tuesday. Well, technically I got a call from his secretary, but his intended message got so garbled that he ended up just getting on the phone with me himself. He had decided that he wanted us to come in several days prior to our appointment to take our MMPI tests, so he could get the results from them in time for our meeting. Fine, except I work 9-5 and was already going to be missing a couple of hours of work for the psych screening. So he was nice enough to agree to let me come in directly after work, since someone is normally there a bit later in the evenings. I will be going to take the test directly from work tomorrow. The downside is that this will require me to drive across town at rush hour twice instead of once, but the upside is that my appointment on Tuesday will be shorter and I will have to miss less work. Since my husband has a different schedule than me (he works 6pm-6am three days a week), I told the doctor he would have to call and schedule a time to come in separately.
After two phone calls with rude receptionists telling him they had no idea what he was talking about and that he can't come in because the doctor has no appointments available (he doesn't NEED an appointment, just a desk to take the test), he was finally able to convince them to let him come in and take the test tomorrow afternoon. Hopefully when we get there they will have heard of an MMPI and will be able to find one for us to take. To say that the office is disorganized would be an understatement.
Then, yesterday afternoon I got an email from the nurse coordinator (NC) from the fertility clinic in Chicago that is going to be going the embryo transfers. The one we've been trying to schedule my med screening with for the past month. After reviewing my medical records, the nurse said she needed a letter from my OB stating that I was medically cleared to be a surrogate. OK, fine, I will get that this week. Then she proceeds to say that I should make sure my OB has advised me of the risks of taking estrogen with my family history of breast cancer - she believed the estrogen taken in order to prepare my body for IVF would be ill advised as it can increase the risk of breast cancer.
Insert total freak out here.
My family history of breast cancer is very scary - my paternal grandmother and aunt were both diagnosed with and died of breast cancer in their 40s. Based on the family connection and their ages, it is most likely genetic. I know that my risk of getting breast cancer is high. I choose to not think about it, figuring that worrying about it now won't keep me from getting it in the future. But of course this email throws me for a loop - I didn't realize estrogen can cause breast cancer. Why didn't anyone tell me before? Why did two separate agencies medically clear me without a word about it? It was time to consult Dr. Google.
First I start googling information on family history of breast cancer. I learn that 1 in 8 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in her life. I also learn that those with a certain inherited genetic mutation have an 80% chance of developing breast cancer. That's a fun fact. Now I'm really freaking out. So I start googling breast cancer and estrogen. Yep, high doses of estrogen (like those used in hormone replacement therapy for postmenopausal women) increase your risk of breast cancer.
Then I ask myself, with the risk factors that I have am I really willing to increase my risk even more to have a baby for someone else? What happens in the future if I get breast cancer - will I always wonder if I had not been a surrogate if I would not have developed it? Would I regret my journey? Here is where I send a panicky email to my agency coordinator.
Then I think, wait a minute, I researched fertility medicine risks before I even considered this journey. I didn't see anything about cancer anywhere. So I go back to google to research more carefully. It turns out that tons of studies have been conducted regarding fertility medications and their risks, including whether taking estrogen increases your risk of cancer. All of the studies I was able to find, including ones that included women who received fertility treatments back in the 1960s, showed that there was absolutely no evidence of an elevated risk of breast cancer. Not even if you already have elevated risk factors. In fact, pregnancy and breastfeeding before the age of 32 actually decrease your risk of breast cancer. While hormone replacement therapy gives you a constant dose of estrogen over long periods of time, the estrogen you take while cycling for IVF only lasts a couple of weeks, and it really isn't that much higher of a dose than it would be if you had ovulated on your own.
Today I left a message with my OB, and when I ask her to write a clearance letter for me I'm definitely going to bring up the estrogen/breast cancer question with her like the NC suggested I do. But after researching, having a long talk with my coordinator, and getting input from other surrogates on SMO, I'm feeling much calmer now. Jesse and I decided that the NC is mainly saying that to cover her butt, and that it came across harsh because, well, that's just her personality.
So I'm not going to throw in the towel. I'm still going to make my IPs' dreams come true. I'm glad that the NC said something because it allowed me the opportunity to properly educate myself. I may have been having a panic attack yesterday, but now I actually feel better than I did before about my choice.