Diem Brown: My Hormone Crazed Life
In her PEOPLE.com blog, Diem Brown, the Real World/Road Rules Challenge contestant recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer for the second time, opens up about her desire for a child and the ups and downs of cancer and fertility procedures
As girls we tend to blame most mood swings on PMS because it gives us an out during the times we may be acting a little “crazy.” Even guys like to chime in on PMS, quipping with the popular guy cliché, “Oh, is it that time of the month?” Yep, the boys never learn that stupid statement triggers a fight every time – lol.
Before going on fertility drugs, I heard horror story after horror story of mood swings I should expect while taking fertility shots. I was told, “It’s like PMS on steroids for 12 to 16 days.” Scary thought, but here’s my take below.
The process of egg freezing or any fertility procedure really is an emotional roller coaster even without being subjected to all the hormone-altering fertility drugs. Women are born problem solvers so when there comes a problem we can’t fix with maternal love, a rational talk or a Band-Aid, our minds go insane – at least mine does.
Mood Swings … Yes, They’re Gonna Happen
Fertility issues are the sorts of problems that crash our problem-solving system and so our emotions go haywire. Combine those emotions with some powerful drugs and you get mood swings. While taking fertility drugs this is bound to happen, but it’s not like you become some bridezilla gone baby mad, rather it’s more contained. For me, it’s about fighting inner mental demons.
My mood swings while on these fertility drugs haven’t caused people to storm out of my Chelsea apartment searching for some tranquilizers.
In fact, most of my closest friends and family say the biggest change they have seen in me is me having five different emotions on the same subject. I’ll go from: “Yeah, let’s go out dancing,” to “No, I’m too tired, I’m just gonna watch The Bachelorette,” to crying “Why am I a loser watching The Bachelorette while I should be going out?” to yelling “Why are you judging me for not wanting to go out!” And there’s my favorite and constant “Wait, are you mad at me?”
You feel like you are 50 shades of crazy – without the playroom. But as weird as it sounds, whenever I feel a mood swing come on, I get a lil excited because in my head that means the shots are working and making me some baby eggs!
So if you are thinking of doing fertility treatments do NOT worry about the mood swings as they are harmless and kinda a fun thing to blame any unbecoming behavior on.
Pain and Weight Gain?
People have asked, “Do the shots and the retrieval procedure hurt?” Honestly, speaking as a wimp when it comes to needles, the hormones don’t really hurt at all. Yes, there is a lil pinch and the first couple times when you’re being given the shots you get all nervous before the shot goes in, but it’s two seconds and it’s done!
People have also asked me about weight gain from these hormone shots. And to be 100 percent honest, I heard horror stories about this too, but for me I didn’t think it was bad at all. First, you have to think about what is really important to you and prioritize. You’re making “egglettes” with the hope of getting prego in the future, so yeah you gain weight. But so what? You are trying to bring life into the world. What an amazing trade out for a couple extra pounds gained.
For me, I’ve gained about 7 to 10 pounds from when I first started. I was told to avoid workouts during the shots and at first I was like, “Ugh whatever, they’re just saying that to scare you.” So I did some stair-stepper and even a boot camp class, but then I got a huge pain in my stomach and I stopped with the realization that maybe (just maybe) I should listen to directions for once. So if the fear of weight gain is holding you back from doing egg freezing/IVF, don’t worry, it’s really nothing.
I’ve also been asked about the cost of fertility treatments. Well, if it’s for a medical reason, you can get a HUGE discount by going through LiveStrong’s Fertile Hope program. They’ve done wonders for me. However, if it’s not a medical reason for wanting to freeze your eggs, I’ve heard costs of $7,000 to $15,000 total. And here’s a money saving tip: You can buy your hormone-injections online at fractions of the cost.
Speaking of injections, my Real World/Road Rules pal Johnny Bananas has been a amazing lil nurse, and has come over to my place a couple times to give me shots … before he goes out at night … Even the night of his 30th birthday party, he came over gave me my injections. So, I gave him a some birthday shots for being a great Doctor a.k.a. “Doctor Bananas,” as he likes to be called!
The last time I had cancer six years ago, doctors asked me if I wanted to freeze embryos (freezing just eggs was not available to me). At 22 years old I wasn’t ready to pick my test tube baby daddy yet. Even though I considered asking some guy friends for their “swimmer goods,” I didn’t follow through with it. Playing out that scenario in mind made me feel weird about it so I never did any fertility preservation before my chemotherapy back then. However, now that technology has advanced so much we now can freeze just eggs, so when you are ready to make a baby in the future, you can!
The Bright Side
Looking for some silver lining in all of this, I’m looking at this situation like I’m saying goodbye to my biological clock. I don’t have to feel the pressure of racing to get pregnant before a certain age now. I think egg freezing is a great way to be in charge of your future and I would tell anyone who is interested in doing it to do it!
This Saturday, I will be headed to the Hamptons for the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund’s Super Saturday! The event is like a designer garage sale on steroids with all of the proceeds going to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF). So to justify your impulse buys, just know that the more you shop, the more you help! This is such a cool idea, especially when I’m in need of a cute fun summer dress.
You can support Super Saturday by attending or if you aren’t in the area, turn your TV to QVC Saturday, July 28 at 2 PM (ET) and support OCRF through your living room during their live two-hour broadcast.
Always keep in mind that helping monetarily is great, but your voice is, in many ways, worth more than dollars, so help raise ovarian cancer awareness and help OCRF by Tweeting, Facebooking or telling people to tune into QVC’s show airing live from Super Saturday’s celebrity-filled event.
I was overwhelmed by y’alls amazingly sweet comments of support of me doing this second round of fertility treatments before I start chemo. Thank you SO MUCH for your words of encouragement I was really nervous of the judgment I was going to endure but was astonished by y’alls comforting sentiments!
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. You can also follow her on Twitter @DiemBrown