After learning I needed chemo for my breast cancer, I opted to do IVF. But because of the pandemic, fertility treatments were put on hold. I could only wait three months. My doctor fought hard for me and now I'm optimistic I will one day give birth.

By Peg Rosen
September 11, 2020
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Credit: Courtesy of Angelina Dallago

In mid-March 2020, life was supposed to be getting back to normal. After the chaos of my breast cancer diagnosis that January, I’d had my lumpectomy and was waiting for test results to see what further treatment I might need. But I was eager to hit the gym, go cycling with my long-term boyfriend, and dive back in at work.

On March 16, my boss told us not to come in. A coworker had a fever and was being tested for COVID-19. That’s when the pandemic hit home. I began to worry about what it would mean for me as a patient. I really got scared a week later when my doctor said the test results were in and I would need chemo.

At first, I thought about how to stay safe from the virus, since chemo compromises the immune system. Then I had a chilling thought: Before chemo, which can cause infertility, I’d need to harvest and freeze either my eggs or embryos fertilized by my partner’s sperm. I emailed the fertility clinic my oncologist recommended and learned the office was closed because of the pandemic and was not doing IVF.

I started to panic. My oncologist said the longest chemo could wait was three months. Who knew how long the pandemic would last and when “elective” procedures like IVF would again be available? I was terrified I’d lose the chance to have a child.

Thankfully, my oncologist went to bat for me. I was one of the first patients the IVF specialist saw when his clinic opened again on May 1. We froze one precious embryo. Five days later I started chemo.

I know I’m going to be OK. And I’m staying optimistic about someday giving birth to that beautiful baby. If I do, I will tell him or her, “You were brought about in the strangest and weirdest time. But I’m so glad I was able to make you a part of my life.”

This article originally appeared in Parents magazine's October 2020 issue as “Breast Cancer in the Pandemic - Angelina Dallago, 40 Philadelphia, PA.” Want more from the magazine? Sign up for a monthly print subscription here

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Comments (3)

Anonymous
February 12, 2021
I was married at 32 and immediately tried to get pregnant. When I was unable to conceive I had blood tests for fertility and was told that I had an FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) of 54 and would not be able to have children. Even though the doctors knew that I had been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis since age 25, no one bothered to check my thyroid levels. my TSH was measured at .001. My Synthroid dosage was lowered. a friend advise me to contact a spiritualist who help with fertility with his medicine, i collected his contact and explain my situation to him he prepared for me a herbal medicine which i took as describe by him. became pregnant very quickly, I had a successful pregnancy. I have my baby august 2017. to get pregnant at age 35 with my 2nd child in september 2019, thank you sir , this is his email contact if you require his help babaka.wolf@gmail.com or Facebook at priest.babaka
Anonymous
September 19, 2020
I have absolutely nothing but ill will for these people. If having a child is so important during the pandemic then maybe look into adoption?? Which was never put on hold??? Bringing a child into a home with a mother who may or may not stay in recovery. Selfish as can be.
Anonymous
September 19, 2020
I have absolutely nothing but ill will for these people. If having a child is so important during the pandemic then maybe look into adoption?? Which was never put on hold??? Bringing a child into a home with a mother who may or may not stay in recovery. Selfish as can be.