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Life after Chemo
At 25-years-old, Alicia Huff was on her way to becoming a surgeon. But during a monthly self-breast exam, she noticed a lump. She had it removed and biopsied and then the doctor called to tell her she had cancer. "About 20 seconds after the phone call, I said 'I have breast cancer.' I fell to my knees, panicked, I was by myself.”
The medical student put school on hold and quickly worked with doctors to put together a plan of attack, including chemo therapy. "In a four hour appointment, no one mentioned preserving my fertility,” says Huff.
Huff did her own research and learned that chemo, in addition to short-term side effects like hair loss, can also cause premature menopause. Huff says, "I hadn't even thought about children. I was 25. I'm not married, I'm about to start a career as a surgeon."
"The chemotherapy often saves your life, but causes the loss of opportunity to have children,” says Dr. Jack Crain of Reproductive Endocrinology Associations of Charlotte.
Crain says new science, only available in Charlotte for the last year and a half, has allowed women in Huff's position to safely freeze their eggs, indefinitely, before undergoing chemo. Dr. Crain says, "It's really rewarding and sometimes it's sobering."