Friday, April 21, 2006

sperm banking before cancer

I am on the mailing list of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, which sends out regular email updates about news in the world of blood cancers. In its most recent news update, there is an article titled, "Men Not Banking Sperm Before Cancer Therapy," which interested me the most. Before I began my chemotherapy treatments, the medical staff at the hospital informed me about the reproductive risks associated with high-dose chemotherapy and therefore, the importance of sperm banking. It wasn't a difficult decision to make at all. I banked sperm prior to the start of my chemotherapy treatment and I'll spare you the details but let's just say it was a most unique experience.

So as you can see I had a very personal interest in the subject of this article. But I was horrified to learn from a friend recently, who herself had lymphoma, when she told me that her doctors hadn't informed her about the reproduction and sexual risks of her chemotherapy treatment. How criminal! From some of the literature that I have read about the issue of sexuality and cancer, some doctors shy away from discussing this area of care despite it's importance to the well-being of the patient. Indeed, especially for adolescent and young adult cancer patients this issue is right up there on their list. I just hope my friend's story is a rarity and that my experience in which helpful and sensitive medical professionals educate the patient about the reproductive risks of chemotherapy is much more common.

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