Care Guideline #4 from Rethink Breast Cancer’s Care Guidelines for Young Women with Breast Cancer deals with an extremely important topic — fertility. Certain treatments for breast cancer can lead to reduced ovarian function, or infertility. Yet our research tells us that many young women, upon diagnosis, are not being referred to a fertility specialist or told about the impact of treatment on their fertility. We believe that all young women are entitled to this information before commencing treatment.

Here are two testimonials from members of the Rethink Young Women’s Network.

“I was diagnosed in November 2011 with triple negative, stage 3 breast cancer. I recall every detail leading up to seeing my surgeon (mammogram, ultrasound, biopsy, etc.). My initial visit with my surgeon was not as informative as it should have been, but I didn’t know any different. I was given a general breast cancer package with general information.

Looking back, I can think of several other items that should have been discussed and provided to me. I would have liked to have been provided with detailed information early in my diagnosis so that I could have made a more informed decision on my entire treatment plan. My surgeon didn’t think I needed to know all the information at the early stage of diagnosis. That should not be his/her decision.”

-Kelly, diagnosed at age 43

“I was fortunate enough to have had an oncologist who broached the topic of fertility and children prior to starting chemo. She set up a meeting with a fertility specialist within a week of our appointment and four weeks later I had eggs and embryos frozen and I was prepared to start chemo.

I was grateful that I had young female doctors who could appreciate and relate to the struggles I faced as a 33 year-old single young woman with breast cancer.”

-Stephanie, diagnosed at age 33

If you are a young woman who has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, make sure to talk to your medical team about the potential impact of treatment on fertility, and ask about your options.