At the age of twelve I was totally unaware of what my previous cancer treatment would do to me. Sure, I knew I had side-effects, but I was not expecting something that could change my life so much.
In late 2014 I started to have symptoms of something called the menopause. The symptoms I was having (and still have) were hot flushes, headaches, stomach pains, mood swings, leg pain. I knew a little bit about the menopause, but I associated it with older females, not twelve-year olds.
The symptoms I was having I did not recognise as the menopause. I put it down to colds, flus or ‘growing pains’.
However, after almost a year of continuous symptoms my mum decided to ask my paediatrician about my problems. He put it down to puberty and ignored this issue entirely
Luckily, my mum did not believe this statement. She knew about the symptoms I was having and decided to keep protesting about the issues. I vaguely remember going to A&E more than once for my issues, because no one would listen.
As my issues got worse, we finally got referred to the Gynaecology department in late 2015. They then sent me off to have an ultra-sound and an MRI of my pelvis. They did these to see if the worst-case scenario had happened.
*The worst case-scenario was that the surgeon that took my cancer out, took my reproductive system out as well.
Once the doctor had my results we got called into the hospital. The truth was that they could not see my reproductive system. So, they believed it was not there in the first place (this is called Mularian Duct Anomoly). The meeting did not go well as my doctor was very unsympathetic with me. She said some things that I think she even regrets; this has affected my mental health since as well.
I think doctors forgot I was a twelve-year-old girl, rather than an adult.
The Gynaecology unit is somewhere that you do not often see young people in, it is unheard of because no one talks about infertility much.
After that meeting, we were referred to the UCLH for further treatment. I was treated as a rare and unusual case, to be honest I still am. From then on, we got more and more misdiagnoses. Doctors saying, they could, then could not, see my reproductive system. This frustrated me as I felt let down by the doctors. I put my trust in them, and time after time they kept breaking my trust.
I understand this was not their fault for not knowing. However, I would have appreciated knowing they were just as confused as I was by saying: ‘We don’t know if it is there, or not. Sorry.’
After more tests, we had it confirmed my womb was there, however it is so small it would be impractical and impossible to carry a child. To this day, they are not too sure about the rest of my fertility system. From then on, I was diagnosed with Infertility.
After the first few appointments, I was put on hormone replacement patches and tablets. These are to ‘recreate’ normal hormone flows.
After the late diagnoses and constant change of opinion, I was very lost. As a person who has a new late-effect from cancer it was hard to regain confidence in further treatment from new doctors. However, since then I have begun to speak out more and ask the doctors for more than one opinion.
Being diagnosed with infertility felt like the end of the world (and still does some days), but after some processing time you learn this is just another part of you. I was so scared people would not like me because of infertility. Luckily this has not happened, but if it does let’s just say they will not be my friend anymore.
Infertility does not make you weird or unusual. It is just one of many parts of you. It does mature you, but that is not a bad thing. I wish I had known that at the start of my infertility journey. It would have made me feel so much more comfortable in my own skin.
Thanks for reading,