Guest Post By Megan Scherer, Mom to Elliott and Co-Founder of Worth the Wait Charity

When my husband was diagnosed with testicular cancer three years into our marriage, I knew life was going to change but never expected these twists and turns and the happy conclusion 12 years later. 

After my husband’s Orchiectomy (surgery to remove his testicle with cancer), we took a deep breath and thought cancer was in our rearview mirror. However, during his 11 months of post-surgery surveillance, which included regular blood tests to check tumor markers, CT scans with contrast and so much anxiety, we learned of a recurrence. His doctor told him that he needed a very aggressive chemo called BEP. This was not your typical chemo regimen. However, because of his wise surgeon and medical oncologist, he was advised to bank sperm for the second time. Mike handled chemo with ferocity, a positive mindset and resolve like no one I’ve ever seen.

We did not talk much about parenthood during his treatment but knowing that we had some frozen vials of sperm provided me some comfort in my version of the “American Dream” with 2.5 children. Due to the severity of chemo, Mike’s medical oncologist said we needed to wait at least one year after chemo to start a family to give his body time to heal. One year later, we had not processed the entirety of the situation and we needed more time to live life! When the time felt right, we tried for the prescribed 6 months, ended up not getting pregnant, and at my OBGYN for Clomid.

After a few months of Clomid, we were referred to a reproductive endocrinologist (REI) who prescribed letrozole and 3 IUIs. At that time, we realized that Mike’s sperm count and motility were not great, and my egg reserve wasn’t what it should have been for a 30-year-old. We switched doctors (bedside manner matters so much when you are in a vulnerable state) and did two more IUIs combining fresh and all of Mike’s frozen sperm. We still had not seen a positive pregnancy test, so we started talking about using injectable drugs for IUIs and researching adoption agencies. 

The emotional, financial, and physical stress of the situation was adding up. I remember sneaking in my REI appointment before work, always making up excuses for my tardiness and feeling like I was punched in the gut every time a friend or coworker announced a pregnancy. Luckily, a family member introduced me to her friend who was facing infertility. Talking with her was such a comfort and good for my mental health. Mike and I decided to do one final IUI, our seventh, before moving forward with adoption. Finally, a positive pregnancy test! We were ecstatic and could not believe the blessing of a child after what we had gone through. Our son was born in March of 2017, and we have cherished every moment since his arrival.

We tried to grow our family when our son was one. Unfortunately, IUIs did not work. Mike switched doctors and he saw his semen analysis results continue to decline. His new urologist said he was shocked we had a biological child through IUI. We were told IVF was our only option–something I felt uneasy about. Luckily, I was introduced to someone also pursuing IVF through a friend. We had lots of great conversations about the pros and cons and finally, Mike and I decided to do one IVF cycle so we would not have any regrets about growing our family. 

Because our insurance did not cover any fertility expenses, IVF was our most expensive credit card purchase ever. Our one cycle resulted in ten eggs. Eight were fertilized and we had three embryos. Only one embryo made it to day five and it was frozen because my progesterone was not in the recommended range for a transfer. We did a frozen embryo transfer the following month. With all the emotional burden of IVF, we decided to get away. While we were on our trip, we Ubered to a lab in New Orleans for a blood draw which would show if the IVF was successful or not. On a whim, we had our tarot cards read outside of the St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square. The fortune teller said that I had two children but lost one. Talk about a mind trip. 

My nurse called a few hours later to let us know the IVF was unsuccessful. I am not an overly emotional person, but this hit me hard. I cried for hours, on the way to the airport, at the airport, and on the plane ride home. This was not how I imagined our life. The emotional turmoil of not being able to expand our family was a blow. 

We took time to process the grief and reflect on our many blessings in life and then COVID hit. During our extended time together, Mike and I had several conversations about how we could raise our son to exhibit kindness and generosity to others. We kicked around some ideas and Mike mentioned the idea of helping other cancer survivors with fertility. We strongly believe that no one should have the hope of parenthood taken away by cancer. Mike mentioned our idea to a friend who is an attorney and he helped us set up a 501c3. Just over two years later, Worth the Wait is a nationwide charity that has awarded forty-one grants to adolescent and young adult cancer survivors pursuing parenthood. We have helped couples and individuals preserve fertility, pay for storage costs, adopt children, work with a surrogate, and pay for IVF and IUI. 

While there are days when I think of what life could have been with more than one child, I am truly gratified knowing my purpose in life is parenting Elliott, alongside Mike, and helping other young cancer survivors start families through Worth the Wait.


If your family building journey has been impacted by a cancer diagnosis, find community and support at RNE’s free, virtual Cancer and Fertility Group.

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