While you might have plans for the future and ideas about when you hope to have children, life can get in the way. That’s exactly what happened to Liya Shuster-Bier when she received a shocking diagnosis – a rare form of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The cancer started in her white blood cells, and would go on to wreak havoc on her immune system.
Liya’s treatment plan included the most aggressive forms of chemotherapy and immunotherapy, treatments that lasted 18 weeks. As chemotherapy is known to damage the ovaries, Liya would be plunged into premature meonopause, and she would not be able to naturally conceive later in her life.
Egg freezing as an option
This was particularly devastating, as she and her husband had already been trying to have a baby. She was lucky to already know about her options to freeze her eggs for later fertility treatments. Liya is friends with Lindsay Beck, the founder of a charity called Fertile Hope, and so she knew that this was an option to preserve her fertility for the future.
She explains that she knows how lucky she was to have the time and resources to freeze her eggs before she started her chemotherapy treatments. She had time to complete one cycle of retrieval, and her insurance company covered the majority of the costs. The remainder of the fees were covered by a Livestrong scholarship, which saved her more than $30,000 USD.
She went through the extreme emotional and physical stress of egg stimulation and retrieval, and was able to successfully retrieve 39 eggs that day. Liya viewed this as a good omen , as it was more than twice what her doctor had hoped for!
Her cancer treatment began
Two weeks after her egg retrieval, she began the treatments for her cancer. She underwent 6 rounds of treatment, which was incredibly hard on her body and on her emotions. Less than 6 months after finishing treatments, her cancer returned. She began an even more aggressive form of chemotherapy and a new form of immunotherapy, as well as radiation therapy. Just over a year after her initial diagnosis, she was declared to be in remission in January of 2019.
Now, Liya and her husband have been advised to wait at least 24 months after remission to begin the IVF process with her previously frozen eggs. They have a sweet Labradoodle called Chloe, and they have 18 more months before they can start their fertility treatments. She will be 32 when they start, and she is starting to see her friends having their own babies, and she is more than ready to be a mother.
Liya’s husband is a cardiologist who is current working on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis. As she says, “I’m isolating apart from him, with Chloe. But when the time is right, we know my frozen eggs are there waiting for us. There is so much life out there for me, for us. And I’m really excited to live it, with my family.”
We send Liya and her husband all the love in the world.
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