It all kicked off way back in summer of 2017, my hubby & I had been trying for a baby naturally for what seems like an eternity, nothing was happening, every month i would hold my breath around the 'aunt flow due' date & feel a massive wave of disappointment each time she visited. I turned into a pro for checking ovulation signs over the months, i knew i was ovulating, i could feel it but still no luck. We decided to seek medical help. We had no clue whether we were not conceiving due to infertility issues or simply stress.
Not in a million years would i think infertility would ever be an issue & i don' think a lot of people think about it until it happens to them.
Fast forward all the testing (which by the way, the balloon dye test - wtf!) we were handed the devastating blow that not only did Hubs have a low count, they were lazy little mites. ICSI became our only option.
We threw ourselves into it, you couldn't hold me back, i wanted to start there and then, nothing in this world was more important to me. We began the process,
its not until now when i look back do I realise the amount we have to go through, both emotional & physically, i guess we kinda run on adrenaline & our desire to become parents.
I clearly remember one of the questions 'i think that's about covered everything, do you have any underlying medical conditions' i lied! i had been suffering from back pain for a few weeks, in my head there was nothing that was going to stop me starting the process but a thousand doubts landed in my head, what if i can't carry a baby, what if it gets worse, what if i need pain killers, can i take pain killers when pregnant?
Everything was going so well, i grew multiple eggs, i was smashing through the injections like I was a qualified nurse when about half way through my right breast started to hurt, like shooting pains. I have a very strong family history of cancer so i'm very clued up, i did a self examination and found quite a big lump. I immediately called my IVF nurse, they weren't concerned, we put it down to the huge amount of changing hormones by body was going through. I wasn't convinced & got in touch with my GP. It took one look for him to refer me to the Breast Screening Clinic, my gut already knew.
While I waited for my Screening appointment, egg collection & test day were edging closer & closer. We managed to get 8 A class embies! We couldn't believe it, implantation went perfectly, I was convinced it had worked, this was our shot. Test day rolls around & Suddenly, i start to cramp, is it implantation cramping? it must be! The next morning was D day. I have never been so excited to take a pregnancy test but i didn't get that far, i started to bleed as soon as i tore open the test. I did the test anyways knowing what it would show...another negative.
There have been two points in my life where i have felt as though everything was falling in on me with no way out, this was one of them. I cried to the point of exhaustion.
A week went by, i have zero recollection of that week, my appointment arrived, i knew i had to pull myself together & my gut was telling me i was about to receive another blow, it was right. After many biopsies/mamograms & ultrasounds i was diagnosed with Breast Cancer at the age of 30. The first thing i said was 'what will happen to my embies? Can i still get pregnant?' The fact that my life was in danger never even came to the forefront i was just so obsessed with becoming a mum.
The blows didn't stop there, part of the routine screening is to check the rest of the body for potential spread. Remember me mentioning i was experiencing back pain? One week later, i sat down in the room with my surgeon, hoping to be given a plan of action to get rid of my boobs & cure my cancer, instead i was told that my cancer had already spread to most of my skeleton & i was now incurable, with only a few years to live. This was the second time i fell into that hole. Again one of the first questions i asked was 'what will happen to my embies?' the response i got was like a knife to the heart,
'i'm afraid as your cancer is hormone receptive we need to put you into a medical menopause straight away, you will not be able to have children'
Those 3 weeks were the biggest test i have ever gone through. I grieved for my motherhood before i grieved for my life. Even though those 3 weeks were so traumatic, i have come through the other side & have such a fresh appreciation for life. If it weren't for our infertility issues we would never had gone through ICSI, my oncology team believe the treatment had accelerated the growth of my breast lump as its hormone receptive so without IVF treatment i may not have noticed it until a lot further down the line, i may not even be here now.
Going through IVF opened my eyes to a whole new way of thinking, one where i am so grateful for all the small things we take for granted daily, being diagnosed with an incurable cancer only elevated that gratitude. I now live life for each day, i don't worry about the little things, I actively make sure that i am surrounded by positive people & love & project that back.
Even though we can't be parents to a bald baby we are very proud parents of a fur baby, named Loki, he is the most mischievous cat going & we adore him. We are also extremely lucky to have so many beautiful people in our lives that have children of their own, we treat them like they are ours & they all fill our hearts to the brim, there will always be a space there for those embies we never got the chance to grow, they will forever live on in the stars.
I now focus all my energy on living life to the absolute max, raising awareness around Metastatic Breast Cancer & showing that you can still live with an incurable disease, that life goes on however much is thrown at you, you can and will get through it & you will be a stronger version of yourself.
You can follow along my crazy rollercoaster life over on Instagram @nicknacklou