For the thousands of women each year battling breast cancer, a strong focus is on life after cancer.
For one woman in Aurora, that focus includes having children and starting a family.
Last May, 36-year-old Adrienne Grandjean was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer.
“When I would give someone a hug who was flat-chested my breast would hurt a little bit,” Grandjean said. “And breast cancer runs in my family. My doctor suggested I get a mammogram and that’s when I got the news.”
Once diagnosed, Grandjean met with her oncologist and fertility specialists for advice on her next move.
“Beating cancer was obviously on top of mind, but I didn’t want to risk not being able to have a baby,” Grandjean said.
Having a family has always been part of the plan for Grandjean and her partner of 13 years, Barbara Morehouse.
“Ideally, I would have a child and she would have a child and then we’d be a big happy family in this house, with two dogs,” Grandjean said.
With that goal in mind, the couple turned to Dr. Laxmi Kondapali at Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine to discuss their options before starting chemotherapy treatments. One option was fertility preservation.
In Grandjean's case, that included harvesting her eggs, having them fertilized by donor sperm and then freezing the eggs for her to use once she is done with cancer treatments.
“They don't want to sacrifice their ability to conceive or start a family in the future, and when patients like Adrienne come to me, they see that these things are feasible -- that we can make this possible and it relieves some of that stress and fear,” Kondapali said.
Although, doctors did say Grandjean’s case is complex.
“We had a narrow timeline as to when she had to start chemotherapy," Kondapali said. "We also had a hormone sensitive cancer, and many of the medications I give to stimulate the ovaries to do egg-freezing or even make embryos is with hormones, so we had to keep that in mind,” Kondapali said. “But we were able to address all of those in a timely fashion.”
Grandjean now has three embryos to use when she is done fighting breast cancer. While the couple knows there is no guarantee the fertility preservation will work, they can’t help but be hopeful.
"We would do all that we could to preserve as many eggs as we could, and if we couldn't, at least we would know that we tried,” Morehouse said.
As Grandjean continues chemo treatments and radiation, the couple is keeping a positive outlook and said they are taking it one day at a time.
“I’m ready to beat cancer. And I’m ready to start a family,” Grandjean said.