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Conception After Cancer: October 5, 2011

Tamara Chesney was only 33 years old when she was diagnosed with an invasive form of breast cancer.

“I did a neoadjuvant treatment which you do your chemotherapy first, then you do your surgery then you follow it up with radiation. So I treated it as aggressively as it was going to treat me.”

In her war against cancer Tamara feared childbearing would be a casualty.

“I knew that there was a risk to my eggs, but we had to treat the immediate problem first.”

Two years after getting the all clear from cancer, she turned her attention to getting pregnant and to Dr. Craig Sweet.

“There are a number of patients who had very few options in years past; example cancer survivors where surgery, chemotherapy, radiation may render them sterile, unable to conceive, so there are some new options for them,” says Dr. Craig Sweet, a reproductive endocrinologist on the medical staff of Lee Memorial Health System.

The first step for Tamara was to figure out what the cancer treatments did to her body.

“Let’s say they are no longer menstruating or there are very few eggs left; the quality is reduced. That’s where the options such as adoption, egg donation, embryo donation really come into play,” says Dr. Sweet.

“He did inform us that because of the type of drugs we were on and for the chemotherapy that it would have a lot of egg damage if we had any eggs at all,” says Tamara.

She and her husband used fertility drugs. After four unsuccessful cycles, they didn’t give up, they moved on.

“The other options are to use donated eggs, eggs donated from young women generally ages 18 or 21 to about 31 years of age,” says Dr. Sweet.

These are the fruits of all their labor.

“Kahne is the sweetest and the most emotional, Sophie’s the princess I mean there’s no other word for her she just knows how to work all of us and Logan is the crazy man,” says Tamara.

Tamara’s triplets were conceived using an egg donor. She carried the babies to term in her own womb. Proving she could be ‘life-giving’ after cancer.

“I wouldn’t accept failure, one way or another I was going to find a way,” says Tamara.

Sorting through her fertility options Tamara found a way to give birth to her dream.