Saturday, April 23, 2011

Fashion for Fertility

Fashion for Fertility was a huge success!  Raising funds for the RESOLVE organization made for the perfect afternoon.  It was a perfect Spring day in Chicago!  The weather was perfect!!  There were laughs and tears throughout the afternoon.  The speakers were awesome!   As for my speech, it went perfectly, at least I think so!  It went smoother than my Birdies for Babies speech.  I definitely did not start crying and had to have my husband finish it for me this time!  haha  I was so nervous before I started...Once it was my turn to speak, I got to the podium and felt as if I was having a convesation with my friends.  The audience knows these stories are sad and come from a place of vulnerability.  From what I heard, I got some positive feedback.  Apparently, my story made an impact on the audience.  I was stopped by each guest throughout the "Meet and Greet" and said "You are simply amazing."  "Your story is truly inspiring."  "How could somebody so happy and looking fabulous, have gone through so many unfortunate things, and still trudge forward?"  or even "Can I just give you a hug?"  I was speechless.  After hearing these things from complete strangers throughout the event validated why I am there.  I now know my story impacts so many people and today most definitely prooved that.  It is nice hearing how others find comfort and support through me.  I was truly touched by all the guests at the Four Seasons today and it was a pleasure meeting everybody.  It was a room full of influential people!  You guys are the real heros.  :)

For those who did not get the opportunity to come to the event who wanted to hear my speech, here it is!  Sorry I didn't get a video, but this will do...

Good Afternoon Everybody.  My name is Katie and I am a current patient of FCI. 
Just to give you a little background information on my situation, I was diagnosed with cancer in 1999 when I was 12 years old.  I was diagnosed with germ-cell ovarian cancer.  I of course, thought I was going to die.  My doctors gave me a 65% of survival.  I hadn’t known many people who have had cancer that actually survived.  Cancer was a death sentence.  We found that the cancer was growing from both my ovaries.  Unfortunately, both had to be removed in surgery.  Through my adolescent naivety, I thought, well, I don’t need those I don’t think…at least not to survive…so I thought it was ok.   When all surgeries were finished and chemotherapy had started,  I was taught what an ovary was because I had no idea.  I was only 12 years old.  I then learned I would never be able to conceive naturally, but only through the means of IVF.   
I thought who is going to marry me with knowing all this about me?   I wouldn’t marry me….It’s not going to be an easy road having children…and then I found a man who knew the hardship ahead and was on board. He is my best friend. Without him, I would not be sane at this point. I would not be the positive, happy-go-lucky Katie you all know and see. He is my angel.  For him I am thankful ...the strength and support he gives to me daily is remarkable. He handles our situation with such ease even though ease is the opposite of what our reality is.
Here we are 12 years later...I am now married to a man whom I love and who I want to have children with.  We knew we both wanted children right away.  Our hearts have always been bigger than our heads.   Immediately following our wedding, we found ourselves at FCI meeting Dr. Uhler to go over our unique case to embark on our journey to have children.  At this consult appointment, we learned we did not have any insurance coverage. My stomach fell to the floor.  I thought there had to be some mistake.  My insurance is good.  Let me double check that as I say with a white, pale face to the receptionist.  Not only did we know we needed IVF, but we needed to have an egg donor which increases the financial burden with a final estimated cost of at least $25k and that is if it worked the very first attempt.  My initial thought was…We are only 24 years old…who has this kind of money?!   We decided that day we would do all the diagnostic testing because that was covered by insurance and get everything ready up until the point where we had to pay the big bucks until we could come up with a plan.
I immediately went home and thought “There has to be SOMETHING in this world to help people like us.  Maybe for cancer survivors...or anything…Grants, loans, fundraisers, ANYTHING…we were desperate.  I made a few phone calls to some promising leads I found online, but there was no success.  IVF just didn’t look like a possibility for us at that time.  It broke my heart because cancer was to blame for all of this turmoil yet again.
One day, while I was browsing the web, I came across FCI’s facebook page and saw the words “Win a Free IVF cycle.”  I actually laughed and thought what a cruel scam…who would post this unless it was entirely true with no catch…I double clicked the link and it brought me to Birdies for Babies website.   Here we found that FCI is the title sponsor for this incredible event.  As I read each qualification for a candidate couple, we matched perfectly.  I opened the application and saw the due date for all applications was July 16, 2010.  And guess what the date was…July 16, 2010.  I thought oh they probably have chosen somebody by now, but what the heck…I am going to send it in anyways…what do we have to lose?  I filled in all my contact information and was given 5 lines to write a little bit about my story.  I chuckled and said OK!  I can try to sum my story all up in just 5 lines.  SO I typed as fast as my anxious hands could type and emailed it in to Todd and Melissa Trader, the founders of Birdies for Babies.
Two weeks went by and we were chosen as the beneficiaries for 2010!  Our morale, confidence, and excitement were at an all time high.  We felt our dreams were coming true.  We were able to try to have our first child!  I had to call Todd Trader the morning I found the email on my way to work and asked, “Does this mean what I think it means?  I don’t want to get too happy until I know it is definite.” And he replied “You can get happy now.  This is 100% for real and we want to help you guys.”  That morning was a morning we will remember forever.
The event was a huge success!  With the help of FCI and Birdies for Babies we were able to afford the IVF treatments we needed and we were able to choose a donor and proceed with our first cycle.

We started our first cycle in November of 2010 which ended up being cancelled due to lining issues, and again in December with the same story…We took both the cancellations pretty hard because we were so excited to get to transfer.  Then came February….we transferred on February 16 that ended with a negative pregnancy test on February 28.  We were crushed.  Words really can’t describe that kind of pain and disappointment.  We knew going into this that there was always a possibility of failure, but it didn’t make it hurt any less.  There is always a possibility of failure...that is just the name of the game.  We really thought it was going to work on the first try…but oh well…life just isn’t that easy for us…Again, I blame cancer for all of this and the residual pain it still causes me.   Even with such horrible news, our FCI family stepped up and was there for us twofold.  They approached me for my follow-up consult with Dr. Uhler with comfort, hugs, and condolences.  The support FCI has attributed to me was simply amazing.  I couldn’t have imagined anybody else being there for me like they were.  They handled a not-- so –ideal situation with incredible support and love.  The relationships I have formed with the staff the FCI staff is truly something I cherish.  They are forever considered my lifelong friends. Thank you FCI for all that you have done for Pat and I.  We love you guys!
We then took 2 months off to give my body time to recover and become fresh again for our upcoming cycle.  Doctors orders!  Resting my uterine receptors will create the optimal environment for our future embryos with this next cycle.  We added acupuncture and yoga courtesy of PDtM to our protocol along with a 2nd opinion from a physician at CCRM in Colorado whom Dr. Uhler works closely with.  With these two months, we feel rejuvenated and stronger as a couple and eager to get the ball rolling again.  Of course we know the hurt and sadness this could lead to, but we know how sweet the feeling will be once we hear the words “You’re pregnant.”  It’s never a guarantee, but the hope of achieving pregnancy is what keeps us going.  This journey has brought us closer than we have ever imagined we could be, and we know it will make us better people, and more importantly, better parents.
In the meantime, we stay busy and reconnect with each other back to the days before IVF to keep our relationship strong.  We focus on friends, family, and work.  We love helping wherever we can with the planning and organization for future Birdies for Babies’ events because if it weren’t for an event like that, we would not be here right now with just the opportunity to even try.  We know we are truly blessed.   We have met so many wonderful people along our journey so far.  We know we could say thank you a hundred times over, but the real thank you that proves the most meaning is to pass it forward and to give advice, open an ear, share our story, or even donate/participate in another couple’s fundraiser. We know it means the world to that person.  I am that person right now, and it has made a world of difference.  The people who have reached out to us really have touched my heart in a way they will never know.  I am forever changed from this crazy world of IVF and the people I have met along the way.   We have learned that passing it forward is what it is all about.
To End, I would like to leave you with this quote.  “I don’t need easy, I just need possible.”  Thanks to the medical advances and the medical staff at FCI we know that there are solutions out there and it is possible for us to achieve success and we will not give up until we find success and have our little baby at home with us.  Cancer will not take everything away from me.  Pat and I, along with FCI, will figure everything out to overcome this obstacle.  It really takes a village to raise a child, or in my case, make a child.
Thank you.

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