Cervical cancer survival and Cervivor ambassador Kate Weissman provides advice on conversations patients with cervical cancer should be having with their care teams.
When receiving a diagnosis of cervical cancer, patients should discuss their fertility options with their care team and be attuned to their mental and emotional well-being, as a survivor and advocate Kate Weissman told CURE®.
“You need to understand and advocate for yourself (and say), ‘Look, this is something that I want to do in my life. This is something I want to have options for in my life. So, what can we do?’ If the answer is ‘Absolutely not,’ then that's a situation where mental health resources really need to come into play,” Weissman advised.
Weismann received a diagnosis of stage 2B cervical cancer in 2015 at the age of 30, two years after being diagnosed with HPV, she was also told by her oncologist that she would not be able to carry children. She began IVF, froze nine embryos and received treatment via 55 rounds of radiation, 17 rounds of chemotherapy and surgery before being declared cancer-free in 2016. She and her husband, Matt, eventually had a daughter, Louella, via surrogacy.
Weissman is now an ambassador for Cervivor, a community of patient advocates working with those affected by cervical cancer, and a 2023 Cervivor Champion Recipient, as well as the Massachusetts State Lead Ambassador for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.
She spoke with CURE® about what conversations patients should be having with their care teams after receiving a diagnosis of cervical cancer.
It has to be: What are my options? And you need to understand and advocate for yourself, ‘Look, this is something that I want to do in my life. This is something I want to have options for in my life. So, what can we do?’ If the answer is ‘Absolutely not,’ then that's a situation where mental health resources really need to come into play.
I think a lot of people are just so focused on curing the cancer, which of course is the number one priority, but we also need to make sure that we're unpacking for women what they're also mourning the loss of while they are going through this really difficult time and scary time of their life. So, we need to also make sure that mental health resources are deployed for women.
And I really advise everyone to explore your options, but also to make sure that you're researching different grants that you can apply for because having a baby in a non-traditional way is extremely expensive, no matter which route you go — surrogacy, adoption, egg donors, any of the above, they're really expensive. And it also depends on what state you live in, what's going to be covered and not covered for you.
So, I recommend people start to explore any grant opportunities, do a GoFundMe, figure out how financially you're going to cover this too, if it's a goal of yours, because it's going to be expensive.
This transcript has been edited for clarity.
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