In her PEOPLE.com blog last week, Diem Brown, the Real World/Road Rules Challenge contestant recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer for the second time, blogged about preparing to undergo fertility procedures with the hope of freezing her eggs before her remaining ovary is removed.
Today, the 30-year-old discusses her feelings before and after the operation.
To be honest, today has been a down day. I feel like this dark cloud looms over me and I am just going through the motions. I’m not sure if it’s from all the fertility hormone drugs or because now that my egg retrieval procedure is done, I have to make a huge decision and I’m not sure which way I’m going to go.
I was insanely anxious before the egg retrieval. Going under anesthesia always makes me a little nervous, but I was given comfort by the amazing New York University fertility staff and the fact that my fertility doctor, Dr. Grifo, changed his schedule around so he could be there to perform my egg retrieval himself.
I know I’m really blessed, but sometimes I’m overcome by this green envy monster that creeps into my mind. As I waited for my name to be called for surgery prep, my eyes scanned the waiting room and I saw other “normal” healthy women awaiting their egg retrieval surgery, and suddenly I felt a sting of green jealousy. These perfect-looking couples with their perfect wedding bands in place, and arms giving comfort to each other made the green envy monster within me grow.
I didn’t know why I felt so overcome with jealousy. I am aware that everyone, even perfect-looking people, have problems they are dealing with. For example, these couples were in the same waiting room as I was, because they too were fighting for their own future fertility. As I scanned the room, though, I didn’t see any ticking time bombs by their sides, like I was experiencing. That’s when I knew my jealousy arose from knowing I was, or am, on borrowed time.
I find it funny that my mind always goes to the same place when I get scared. When the time came that I was called in for surgery and laid down on the surgical table, I had the same feeling I experienced while doing anything involving heights above water on MTV Challenges shows. I go silent, try to clear my mind, start breathing slowly and close my eyes. As doctor Grifo inserted the IV, I just waited for the world to go black and for these amazing miracle workers to start the egg removal procedure.
Like ‘A Short Nap’
Sure enough, I woke up feeling like I had just taken a short nap and knowing that the procedure was done – such a surreal feeling. I was shocked I had no pain at all; it was a really simple recovery. And hearing the wonderful words “We got five eggs” made my eyes tear up with joy.
Just as I was reveling in my magical happy moment, the green envy monster settled in again. Another women recovering from the same egg retrieval as myself was in a bed next to mine. The-42-year-old was complaining and upset after she heard she had seven eggs retrieved when she thought she would have 15 eggs. I couldn’t help but turn away in annoyance as my elation with my five eggs was now seemingly not as grand as I had thought.
I’m so excited my warrior one-half of an ovary was able to kick out five eggs (four of those five eggs are mature enough to freeze), but now I have a big decision to make. Do I try to press my luck for one more super-quick fertility hormone round to try and retrieve more eggs for storage, or do I proceed down the ovary removal, menopause, chemo-bearing road? I know that you only need one egg to make a baby, but after watching Bill and Guiliana Rancic’s struggles – and hearing from girlfriends that have done this egg freezing process that they had to do multiple rounds later on because their eggs didn’t withstand the “thaw” or the implantation process – I realize that I won’t have that option of a second round of fertility when it comes to implanting the egglettes into me.
So now I have so many thoughts bouncing around in my head. If I get the okay from my cancer doctor and my fertility doctor to try one more round of fertility preservation shots, am I pushing my luck too much? Am I just playing a “stall” game with myself because deep down I’m scared to have the ovary removal surgery, followed by menopause and chemo?
Juggling Her Emotions
In the end, am I stalling because I’m scared or do I believe I need to do one more round of fertility hormone shots and egg retrieval? I am juggling all of these emotions in my bag and thinking hard about what decision I have to make.
Thank you so much for your comments. I have read them all and some of you have raised some interesting questions that I have to further consider. For example, I know the adoption process is long and hard but some of you have asked if a two-time cancer patient can even be approved to adopt. I never thought of that, so I’m doing some research and throwing that in my bag of thoughts as well.
I should be elated and on Cloud Nine for such a successful egg retrieval considering the obstacles I was faced with, but for some reason I feel as if I’m still running from this looming dark cloud. It’s okay to have down days, but right now I need to get focused and think what my next steps should be. Until then I’m going to sit outside and read Fifty Shades Freed as no dark cloud has a chance against my image of Christian Grey aka Henry Cavil😉
Check back for updates every Thursday: Diem will be chronicling her journey through fertility treatments, chemotherapy, and her quest to educate others about ovarian health exclusively for PEOPLE.com