by Corey Whelan
Despite my love of Halloween and the changing seasons, I dread October. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, also known as Corey's Procrastination Month becaue I don't want to make that call, booking my annual mammogram appointment.
About a year ago, my doctor insisted that I finally take the BRCA test - the blood test that indicates if you have the breast cancer gene. Just do it already, she said. Given that my background is Eastern European, and that my mom, two maternal aunts and my maternal grandmother all had breast cancer, I knew for sure that the test would come back positive and that I would be forced into having a very uncomfortable conversation about preventive mastectomy. Astonishingly, when the phone call I was dreading finally came I found out I do not have the gene. I couldn't believe it. But I also know that not having the gene is not a go pass against breast cancer and that I still need to get tested annually.
So it was with great sadness that I learned about Giuliana Rancic. Her struggles with infertility are well known, and now she has to go through this. I lost a dear friend to breast cancer at the age of 36, so I know how aggressive tumors can be in younger women. When Sheila died I was going through my own struggles with infertility. Both of us were devastated by the abortion she had to endure during her five year fight with breast cancer. As has been widely reported in the press since Giuliana was diagnosed, the hormones of pregnancy can accelerate tumor growth.
All this brings up two important points. If you are undergoing infertility treatment, I really want you to absorb this. One, there is absolutely no known link between IVF and breast cancer. None. Giuliana's story, while hearbreaking, is not a cautionary tale for women going through IVF.
And two, that women and men who are diagnosed with any kind of cancer should speak with their doctors about fertility preservation. The AFA has a comprehensive fact sheet and informative video on this subject. Please click here to access this information, and please, pass the message about fertility preservation along to anyone you know who would benefit from it.
My request to all of you today is to smell the fresh air, lift your face up to the wind, and hug someone you love.