Katie Davis was only 12-years old when she was diagnosed with Stage 3 germ-cell ovarian cancer. Doctors told her she had a 60% chance of survival.
“I thought,” she recalls. “Well that’s an ‘F’ in school so that means it’s not good. That`s how I related the statistic because that’s all I knew about statistics. I had no idea what was in front of me, I didn’t know what to expect.”
In just 7th grade, Katie lost both of her ovaries and underwent chemotherapy.
“My first question was am I going to lose my hair? The doctor’s answer was yes and said you`re going to lose it pretty quickly. I thought, OK well my next question is am I going to die? He said I`m not going to lie to you, you can. But we`re going to try everything to not let that happen.”
Katie successfully beat the cancer and went into remission but because of her surgery, she would never be able to have children of her own. However, she learned that she did have options. With hormone therapy, she could still carry a child but would need an egg donor.
“I was just really excited,” she says. “Because I’ve always wanted to be pregnant and I’ve always wanted to be a mom. So just to know that was still an option for me it was really exciting.”
“There are a number of opportunities for women who have been diagnosed with cancer recently or have had treatment.” says Dr. Meike Uhler in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Fertility Centers of Illinois. “I think the most important thing is to discuss fertility options right away. It never hurts to have as much information as possible. We’ll work with the oncologist to make sure we have this period of time given the state of their cancer and then the patient moves on her treatment if it is allowed by their oncologist.”
When Katie got married in 2010, she and he husband Patrick were ready to try to start a family. The couple raised the $10,000 for an egg donor through a non-profit organization for couples without infertility insurance called ‘Birdies for Babies.’ After months of searching, they decided on an anonymous egg donor. After unsuccessfully trying IVF, Katie began using social media as an outlet publishing all her struggles on a personal blog. A long-time family friend read her story and Facebook messaged them with an offer to donate eggs giving Katie and Patrick another shot.
“It`s just the generosity of other people, it just floors me.”
In December 2011, Katie became pregnant, giving birth to twin girls.
“She is an inspiration to all women who can now turn to donor egg in order to become pregnant.” says Dr. Uhler. “We have the technology now to help people with ovarian cancer and she knew about that technology and sought it out.”
No matter the odds, Katie encourages other women diagnosed with cancer to stay hopeful and talk to their doctors about non-traditional options.
“You just have to find the strength in yourself to just to know it’s not going to be easy but there’s always a chance. And you just keep trying and trying until you get it. Even though you don’t get the traditional family you once dreamed of you do get a family. You find out that the family you dreamed of isn’t nearly as good as the family you have.”
Women battling cancer can face a number of challenges when trying to conceive. It’s important to talk to a doctor and know what options are available.
For more information on cancer and pregnancy, click here.
To read Katie’s blog click here.
For more on the Fertility Centers of Illinois, visit their website.