Sarah Shoff and her family have been attendees at Cancer Survivors Day for many years. Here is Sarah’s story.
On April 7, 2015, I went in for surgery to have a large fibroid removed. They always do a biopsy of anything they remove from your body. On April 9, I received a phone call with the most unexpected news. I had cancer. The doctor began to tell me treatment options, the first of which was a hysterectomy. At this point my husband and I had been married almost 17 years and for the last five years had been trying to start a family. I felt like my life and marriage could be over. We were referred to a gynecological oncologist whose first treatment recommendation was a hysterectomy. We asked if there were any other options that could help preserve my fertility. The oncologist said if the cancer had not gone through my uterine wall, we could try medication first. After an MRI confirmed it had not gone through I started six months of hormone therapy. It was hard on my mind and body, but I was determined to go through it so we could still start a family. After the 6 months of treatment another biopsy revealed that I still had some pre-cancerous cells. The doctor felt that 3 more months of therapy was worth trying based on the success of the first round.
A few days after Christmas I had another biopsy and in January 2016 the doctor said, “Go have your babies.” I immediately called a reproductive endocrinologist. Due to my advanced age (I was 41 years old at the time), we began the process of IVF immediately. In March 2016, we had our first egg retrieval and embryo transfer, which was successful. Unfortunately, just eight weeks in, the pregnancy was no longer viable, and I had a miscarriage on Mother’s Day weekend. We would have to wait two months before we could try again. Our 2nd round of IVF was unsuccessful, but we were able to freeze three embryos to try again in the future. On December 9, 2016, we had our 3rd embryo transfer. A few days before Christmas we got the best Christmas present ever. We were pregnant, and we found out in January that we would be having twins! Unfortunately at eight weeks, we lost one of the twins. In August 2017, I gave birth to our first child, Asher. To our surprise, about 10 months later we found out we were pregnant again, this time without the help of IVF. In February 2019 I gave birth to our second child, Elias.
I would tell others, be your own advocate, never give up and never lose hope.
Throughout the month of September, we will share stories as part of our virtual Cancer Survivors Day. This is the opportunity to be a part and give or receive inspiration from our fellow community members. Distance between us shouldn’t put an end to support and togetherness.