'It put our family plans on hold...'

Intro text: 


Meet Kirby, a young Australian woman participating in the BIG Time for Baby study (scientific name: POSITIVE)

Could you give some background about your situation (age, family, where you live, occupation)?

My name is Kirby, and I am 28 years old.  I’ve been married for 5 1/2 years, and my husband and I, together with our three dogs, live in Secret Harbour, just south of Perth, Australia. My husband works on a remote mine site for half the year and I work for an automotive parts company. I was just 26 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

How did you feel when you learned about your breast cancer diagnosis?

I was quite scared when I received my diagnosis, because I had just lost my sister to endometrial cancer at the beginning of that year. I mostly felt terror that I was going to die, because that was my only experience with cancer – my sister was only 37 when she died. 

Were you worried that your breast cancer might impact your chances to have children?

At the beginning, I was really focused on my own survival, but once I found out that there was a very good chance that my treatment would all go well, I moved on to the fear that I would not be able to have kids.

Which treatment options did you consider?

My cancer was a DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma In Situ) grade 1, stage 2, and I was treated with a lumpectomy and axillary clearance (meaning removal of affected lymph nodes).  I went through 6 rounds of chemotherapy and 35 sessions of radiation; later I had to go back to surgery to have additional tissue cleared. 

In the hope of having some of my eggs to freeze (for in vitro fertilization), we tried to do an egg retrieval procedure, but it was not successful. I then had to start hormone therapy, and was on tamoxifen for 18 months.

How did you come to find out about the POSITIVE study (public name: BIG Time for Baby)?

I had been very lucky that I was referred to Dr. Christobel Saunders, who became my surgeon. I found out through her that they were looking for participants for the trial, and I jumped at the chance.

Why did you decide to participate in the study?

My husband and I have wanted to have kids for some time. We were hoping to start trying in 2013. I had weight loss surgery in August of that year, in order to be ready to become pregnant. Unfortunately, I found my lump in early October and then in November was diagnosed with breast cancer, so it put our family plans on hold. 

I’ve now been participating in the study since I signed up in March this year. I’ve stopped my tamoxifen and started the wash-out period of three months before I can start trying to become pregnant. 

What do you feel has been the main benefit of taking part in the study?

The study is important because it’s gathering information to find out if it’s feasible for women in my situation to pause their treatment to become pregnant and not risk their chances of cancer recurring. There is a slight fear in the back of my mind that I’m slightly increasing my own risk, but life is not without risk.

How do you hope this study may help other patients like you?

I really wish that other patients can have hope, that they can still have children after treatment, and that they are not limited to staying childless because of the fear of being sick again. 

We wish you the best of luck in trying to have a baby!