Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Eff Cancer

I met Alice Crisci at the Fertility Planit Show in Los Angeles this past January. She was a speaker on the egg-freezing panel. The moment she finished sharing her story, I knew there was no way I could leave that place without meeting her.

She was vulnerable, full of life, enthusiastically talking with her hands, and had one of the most infectious laughs I’ve ever heard. I was inspired by her journey and in complete awe of her strength.

At 31, Alice was diagnosed with breast cancer. Let me repeat that – At 31, Alice was diagnosed with breast cancer. Talk about a game changer. When I think of cancer I don’t exactly envision someone in their early thirties having it.

After learning chemotherapy treatments could cause infertility, Alice decided to freeze eggs and embryos. She wanted to give herself the best possible chance to become a mother after she survived cancer. If she survived cancer.

 She brought the embryo freezing news home and presented it to her live-in boyfriend. His reaction wasn’t exactly what she expected; he wasn’t interested in freezing embryos together. Her life was coming apart at the seams.

Cancer, break-up, babies, future, living, dying--just saying those words in the same sentence overwhelms me. I can’t imagine living them simultaneously.

Investing in her future motherhood, Alice began the quest for a sperm donor through the California Cryobank. She searched through catalogs of donors, perused their basic stats (nationality, height, weight, eye color, etc.), medical histories and baby pictures (so she had some idea of what her kid might look like). She listened to audio interviews, assessed personality test results and evaluated written essays. She narrowed her choice from hundreds of prospects to six and finally “the one.”

When her eggs were removed, half were frozen and the other half, were fertilized with the winning DNA.

The following week she had a double-mastectomy and began her fight against cancer.

Now a breast cancer survivor of six years, Alice is a young-adult cancer advocate and the founder of Fertile Action, a non-profit that helps mothers after surviving cancer.

By the way, the day I met her was the day before she and her husband were having those embryos implanted!

To check out the series of articles Alice wrote during her journey kicking cancer’s ass, click here.

A few of my favorite quotes from the series:
  • “I’m afraid I’ll never get married. I’m afraid I’ll get cancer again and have to endure longer rounds of chemo. I’m afraid when I die it will be painful. I know these are fears I’ve conjured up in my mind. I know that courage does not exist without them. I used to race through life, running from my fears at a frantic pace trying to achieve all the things I was afraid I would never do before I died. But then I got cancer. And stared death in the face and am acting anyway.” 
  • “I’m still audacious enough to believe I am changing the world. I’m still competitive enough to catalyze conversations about the aspects of a young woman’s cancer journey others aren’t talking about. I’m still bold enough to tell anyone who will listen what it was like choosing a sperm donor out of a catalog. I am still brave enough to fight for the life I imagine living.” 
  • “Whatever dream you are holding onto that you haven’t started yet, whatever idea is still just an idea, whatever vision of your future you are on pause for, take action tomorrow. Just one. Get it started now. You have no idea when something is going to push the pause button on your life. There is nothing to wait for. Just do it now. You are a visionary. And the world needs whatever it is that you want to contribute to it.”

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