My name is Nicole; I am a 28 year old teacher from Houston, Texas. For the last 7 years I have taught middle school math at a low-income school. My very first day of summer June 3rd, 2019 I went in for a routine check and was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Three years prior I was having some digestive issues and my GI decided to do a colonoscopy just to be sure. He found one pre-cancerous polyp. It was removed and I was told come back in 3 years. So that’s what I did, I had no symptoms, no new irregularities I just went like I was told. When I woke up, they said they had found a mass. I didn’t even know what that meant. They looked at me as I looked at them. Then I asked, “what do you think its cancer?” the doctor shook his head yes. The next day it was confirmed. Everything seems like a whirlwind. I’ve never even had an x-ray before besides my teeth. Now I am at the doctor nearly every day. Almost immediately my oncologist recommended that I meet with an endocrinologist to find out about my options since treatment can possibly make me infertile. These are two things I have never thought about, cancer or infertility. Like most people, I never expected to have cancer I didn’t plan for it and financially I wasn’t sure how it’s all going to work. Team Maggie for a Cure stepped in and helped ease the financial burden along with preserving the hope that when I pass through this storm one day I will be able to be a mother. I am so thankful for everyone at Team Maggie that devotes there time and finances to help strangers through such difficult times in their lives. I am also thankful to all that were impacted by Team Maggie, reading the stories and seeing pictures of others really helped me feel part of something and know that I am not alone. Thank you again Team Maggie you have blessed me with such an amazing gift.
By the age of 28 he has already experienced more than his share of struggles but he is one determined young man. Andy will tell you, “my story Isn’t OVER!”
At age 12 a tumor was found through a concussion occurring during a middle school wrestling match. He underwent a brain surgery biopsy where it was determined his tumor was an “Abnormal Cell Mass” and he would need to follow up with his neurologist every 6 months.
At age 17 upon arriving at home there were police cars and firetrucks blocking his driveway. Entering his house he found his dad bawling because his Mom had committed suicide. This was devastating as she was the closest person to him and she had been by his side supporting him during his surgery. It has been found that support is critical to the best outcome.
The struggle continued when he was near the end of College, he started experiencing intense seizures. An MRI revealed the tumor was now Brain Cancer. Surgery was necessary but only 25% of the tumor was removed and the seizures continued therefore restricting him to no driving.
At this time he met with OSU and Cleveland Clinic who determine Andy’s type of brain cancer required awake surgery followed by 8 weeks of radiation and 1 year of chemotherapy to combat the 6 year life expectancy with Oligodendroglioma, brain cancer.
This surgery was able to remove 80% of the tumor and after surgery he had a huge post-surgery seizure causing his unhealed skull to separate and leak brain fluid. He found himself back on the surgery table for a brain shunt to tie a tube from the brain to his stomach.
This did the trick and with newer anti-seizure medication he was having no more seizures. This made it possible for him to get back in a car. Before chemo he was able to bank his sperm so he can have a family one day.
Andy now is working a full time job and going back to school to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a BSN(nursing). In Andy’s words, “My Story Isn’t OVER!”
My name is Megan Lee.
On December 6th, 2018, at 28 years of age, I was diagnosed with grade 3, ER+/PR+/HER2- Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. I had found my lump while doing a routine breast examination in the shower. I remember meeting with my breast specialist and going through treatment options, and one of her big questions was “do you have children?”. My husband and I had been married for two years at this point and were at the beginning of saving to try and buy a house. I laughed and told her no, we hadn’t had the time to get around to it. I thought I’d have more time.
Because my mass was measuring around 1.9cm, she gave me the option of having a few weeks to do fertility preservation while waiting for my genetic testing to come back instead of starting with chemotherapy right away. I opted to do fertility preservation. Two days before Christmas I got the best Christmas present I've ever received – 13 eggs were able to be retrieved! A week later I found that I was BRCA 1 positive. Once I complete treatment we will be taking my ovaries because of my increased risk of ovarian cancer.
Since then I've gone through a bilateral mastectomy in which they found cancer cells in one of the lymph nodes they biopsied, and started chemotherapy. Tomorrow will be my third of sixteen total infusions of chemotherapy. Two weeks after I complete chemotherapy I will be going through 34 rounds of radiation.
Through every bad day, every hardship experienced, I keep my eyes on the goal. I've got 13 nuggets of hope tucked away for a rainy day. I just need to complete my treatment and focus on living a healthy life so I can have the ability to expand my family. So much gratitude to Team Maggie for help in the midst of this very costly, very scary disease. I live each day knowing that cancer is just a chapter in my story – not the plot!
Team Maggie helped ease the financial burden of embryo storage for my husband and I. I was diagnosed with breast cancer a week after my 30th birthday. The devastation of learning that I was at risk of infertility due to treatments such chemotherapy, along with the understanding that we would need to wait several years before trying to get pregnant was almost as difficult as the news that I had cancer. Mary's kindness and compassion shown through and helped me feel supported and not alone in my battle. Team Maggie helps take the 'fertility' load off of survivors, so that we can focus on healing and kicking cancer to the curb. Thank you.
Earlier this year, I heard a voice tell me to get the BRCA1 Gene Mutation test. A test that I had never gotten despite that my Aunt was diagnosed and survived breast cancer 15 years ago and since then many of the members of the family have tested positive for the mutation. Maybe it is because I have also felt healthy. Also, I honestly didn't understand how high the risks are for developing breast and/or ovarian cancer. So I listened to that voice, had the test and it came back positive. I met with my genetic counselor, and Shem then gave me names of a few oncologist to contact to begin my screening appointments.
I made my first screening appointment a few months later. Dr. Rizzo felt a lump lump during my first screening appointment. four mammograms, two ultrasounds, two biopsies, and a MRI, later I had Triple Negative Breast Cancer in both breasts. I found out about the left side first and the right side was a few weeks later. All of the sudden I am thrown in a world of tumors, surgery, chemo, receptors, etc and it all happened with a phone call. My world was upside down.
After my double masetcomy, I met with 3 different doctors that all agreed I needed chemo since my cancer is triple negative. I also discussed which chemo with all 3 doctors. Since I haven't had kids yet, freezing my eggs was recommended to me because chemo could put me into early menopause and there is no going back. So I had the surgery, froze my eggs, and began chemo. It all happened really fast, and I didn't have money set aside for cancer. It wasn't something I was planning on and all of sudden I had to make a lot of decisions fast.
Be your own advocate. Write down everything and take someone with you to EVERY appointment. If you can't bring someone with you, see if someone can FaceTime with you or ask the Dr. if you can record the session. You will remember very little from every appointment. Get more than one opinion. This is your life and it is important to make sure more than one doctor agrees on your path. If you have surgery such as a double mastectomy, make sure you do physical therapy as soon as your are cleared to do so. Meet with a dietitian. Ask if your hospital offers it as a free service. If you are going through chemo, your body will need more protein and supplements than it normally does. Ask about grants that may be available to you. Take this time to love yourself. Tell yourself, "This is my time to ask for what I need. I am going to thrive, beat this, and will be a happier person from it. Every day do at least 3 things for yourself. Walk, garden, journal, bath, massage, acupuncture, dance, sing, whatever makes your soul soar.
Dr. Laurie Mckenzie
I have been a fertility physician for 16 years, long before my husband underwent (not one but two!) bone marrow transplants
for leukemia. If it was not for cryopreservation of sperm prior to his cancer treatment, we would not have our family.
I know first hand the importance of consideration of fertility preservation for both women and men prior to chemotherapy.
Thank you Team Maggie for a Cure for getting the word out!
-Laurie J. Mckenzie, M.D.
My name is Gemma and I am 30 years old. I live in Mattoon, IL and work for the United States Postal Service as a Letter Carrier. I love my job and I love the people I work with and meet while I walk various city routes. Last year though my customers noticed that I started to walk various city routes. Last year though my customers noticed that I started to walk with a limp. I thought that I had just pulled a muscle but In late February 2017 a tumor was discovered behind my knee. My whole world was turned upside down when I was told that I have Ewing's Sarcoma. No one expects to get cancer. My husband and I planned on getting pregnant and starting a family this year. Now we were faced with the fact that the drugs that can help me would also make it impossible for me to produce any more viable eggs to have a baby. Fortunately we asked about fertility preservation and were able to fast track the process and freeze two embryos. This came at a very large expense though. I am so grateful that organizations like Team Maggie For A Cure exist. It's hard and stressful enough to fight cancer, then have to worry about how to come up with the funds to ensure that you can have the opportunity to have your own family someday. Thank you Team Maggie!
In February of 2017 I was diagnosed with Acute Promgelocytic Leukemia (APL). I was 11 weeks pregnant and lost the baby as a result of my treatment. I have always felt that being diagnosed with leukemia is something I could deal with and fight and win. The thought of losing our baby that we have wanted and planned for at the same time was a whole different story. It has been the hardest card we have been dealt, harder than cancer.., its the thing that keeps me up at night.
When I was first diagnosed I was unable to do any sort of fertility preservation because I was pregnant and it was essential that my treatment begin right away. Thankfully I responded well and am getting healthier so my body was able to handle an egg retrieval in October. Having an egg retrieval needed to be done as soon as I finished chemotherapy so I could begin taking a maintenance medication to keep my leukemia in remission.
Unfortunately, my insurance company does not cover fertility treatments so my husband and I had to pay out of pocket. So now in addition to going to the doctor for blood work and sonograms everyday while also having the stress of giving myself multiple injections at home every night we had to worry about how we were going to pay for it all.
Thankfully the social worker at my cancer center knew of Team Maggie for a Cure and was able to help us in receiving grant money towards this procedure. We were so excited when Mary called and said we had been accepted and would be receiving $2,000 towards our bill! It takes away much of the unnecessary stress and we will be forever grateful for this gift. We appreciate everything Mary and her organization do to help couples like us!
On June 1st 2017, five days before I was set to move from Cleveland to Chicago to complete my doctoral training and a year and a day until our wedding, I was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. With a single symptom, no risk factors, and no family history, I don't think shocked sums up how I felt/feel.
My fiancé and I have spent the last five of our seven years together in separate cities while we worked on our doctoral degrees. For months leading up to my move to his current location we talked excitedly about finally sharing a space, wedding planning, and looking forward to building a family in the year following our nuptials.
Suddenly it became unclear if I would be able to move at all. Luckily my doctors rallied around me and we quickly scheduled surgery to remove my tumor and the sigmoid colon where it grew. My surgeon and oncologist were optimistic that this procedure would do the trick. Following a week in the hospital and another week recovering at home, we were told that this unfortunately wasn’t the case. One of the twenty lymph nodes removed was affected with cancer, and a six-month course of chemotherapy was the prescription. As the shock of the news wore off across the day, I grabbed my laptop and searched for the name of my treatment. To my surprise, within the first few links appeared discussions of fertility loss. No one, it seemed, could estimate the risk. I called my oncologist immediately.
At the same time, my doctoral training and the lease on my apartment were both coming to an end and I had a commitment to begin a job in Chicago. With the approval of my doctors I boarded a plane with hopes of quickly establishing a new care team on a short timeline. Over a few weeks there were seemingly endless phone calls to accelerate the process of initiating my new insurance, finding new doctors, and determining whether we could even consider fertility preservation.
Shortly after my move, we first met with a reproductive endocrinologist who shared the exciting news that we had just enough time to for a single cycle of egg retrieval. We were overjoyed, but also overwhelmed by the cost – one we came to learn that insurance rarely covers. We knew that fertility preservation offers a choice in the otherwise large sea of non-choices that accompany cancer treatment, but did not know if it was one we could afford.
Sensing our concern, our patient advocate spoke with us about how to make treatment a reality through grants such as Team Maggie for a Cure. Reading about Maggie and those she has helped, we felt hope that fertility preservation might be in reach. We cannot begin to express our gratitude for allowing us to focus on the excitement of the future in a time that is otherwise is wrought almost exclusively with fear and doubt. We encourage anyone recently diagnosed to ask your doctors about fertility early and often, and to seek support and exercise choice where you can. It truly makes all the difference.
Cancer is a scary word and being diagnosed with cancer will immediately change your life. Until I was diagnosed, I had no idea just how invasive cancer could be.
Up until 3 months ago, I was healthy and active and my biggest complaints in life were about too much traffic and having an extra 10 (ok, maybe 20) pounds to lose. My symptoms came out of nowhere and quickly increased in severity. After suffering through a week of vomiting 2-5x/day the doctors found a mass in my small intestine and on June 6th, 2017 I was diagnosed with Duodenal Adenocarcinoma.
I am strong person; I am physically strong and equally strong-willed. I took the cancer & surgery news like a champ. I went into practical mode and I put on my positivity hat and said “self, we can do this – we just have to get through surgery.” I was even taking the post-surgery news of chemo very well, but when I was told that I would need to consider my future and whether I wanted children, I cried for the first time. Of course I wanted to have children, but being single at 38 with a new cancer diagnosis and a complete dead-end for any financial assistance from insurance, I didn’t know what to do.
I was very hesitant to make the decision to go forward with the fertility treatments because I was fearful of the financial impact it would have on my life, but my heart knew I needed to give myself this gift and that I would find a way to fight and raise money to help me get through it. Along the way, I found Team Maggie and all of a sudden I wasn’t alone on this journey anymore. I’m so grateful!
I’m fighting for the possibility and hope & belief that one day I’ll be able to be a mom and raise children to be strong, compassionate, caring and giving individuals. My heart is so big and I have so much love to give and I look forward to a future with a family of my own to share that love with. I hope you all keep fighting, too!
When I was diagnosed with Double Hit Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma at 24 I researched everything so I was prepared for what was going to happen. This gave me a list of questions to ask the doctor before I agreed to treatment. When I learned the side effects of chemotherapy would affect fertility I was adamant to go through fertility treatment first before I started chemo. I would advise every one not to be afraid to ask a million questions until you feel complete peace about your treatment plan.
I also found other people on Facebook and Instagram which was really helpful to find out what happened to them when they started chemo. I found taking charge of everything including shaving my head before my hair started falling out made it less scary. Just try to stay positive and know that you will get through it. Don't try and research the outlook for your type of cancer. Instead research thinks like cute head wraps to order and what your port will look like. Focus on things that will help you and not scare you.
In Sept 2014, while studying for my Chemistry final in my dorm room I had a seizure and ended up in the hospital. I was so grateful I was not studying alone that night and my friends knew exactly what to do. I woke up in a hospital. The doctor diagnosed me with Oligoastrocytoma which causes seizures. After 2 brain surgeries I was told they removed all the cancer cells they could see and there was no guarantee the tumor will not come back. I was thankful to be alive so I started eating healthy and went back to studying to be a teacher, which is my dream.
Two years later I was told the tumor was back and January 12, 2017 I had my third brain surgery. This has been very difficult for my family and I to understand. Why is this happening to me? We have no family history of cancer. It makes me think I have done something wrong to make this happen.
Due to the aggressiveness of this cancer the doctor wanted to do more than surgery. So the doctor suggested I freeze my eggs because the chemo and radiation would impact my reproductive system. This tumor was taking over my life. I am only 20 years old and I have not even started living yet. I really wanted my own biological children but the cost was prohibitive. When I talked with the doctor about the problem they found Team Maggie For A Cure, who offered grants to help cancer patients with fertility preservation costs. I was awarded a grant! Every day I am thankful for those who are willing to lend a helping hand. A grant meant a huge burden was lifted off my family.
March 22nd of this year I had a mass removed from my right ovary. The ovary had to be removed as a result. After pathology reports came back, the mass ended up being malignant and I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. As a result I would need to have chemo and my eggs retrieved and stored.
Mid may I underwent fertility treatment and 7 eggs were stored. I was more than happy to have 7! However the costs of treatment was more than I would have imagined. I felt it was an added stressor on top of the other cancer scares and stressors I had to face.
Life changed dramatically and I was hit with a major battle. However, I have learned that there is beyond support out there and people care and walk the battle with you. Team Maggie has shown me that I don't have to do this alone. They have alleviated financial stressors that have made this battle easier. Thank you Team Maggie❤️
In January 2017, I was diagnosed with Stage 2B Nodulan Sclerosis Hodgkin Lymphoma. I knew I would have to undergo chemotherapy, but I had no idea I would have to go through fertility treatment in order to preserve my eggs if I wanted a family one day. To say that the fertility process was an overwhelming situation was an understatement! It was a month long process of doctors' visits, blood work and ultrasounds, and injections before my egg freezing procedure. Since my insurance company considered fertility treatment to be an "elective", my family and I had to pay a lot out-of-pocket costs. When I came across Team Maggie For A Cure, I was amazed that they offered coverage for some aspects of the treatment. I applied and I was so happy to receive a call from Mary telling me that they were going to help out with my expenses. Although insurance companies hardly pay for fertility treatment, it's really nice to know that organizations like Team Maggie are here to help women, like me, through a really difficult point in our lives. I'm so grateful to everyone at Team Maggie for helping me out and granting me financial assistance.
In the Summer of 2015 I found out I have the BRCA1 genetic mutation (like Angelina Jolie), that greatly increased my risk for breast cancer. I was put on a stressful, expensive, and time consuming monitoring plan that included regular MRIs, ultrasounds, and mammograms, and at one point- a biopsy that came back benign. Then in November of 2016 I had another biopsy and it did not come back benign. A few weeks later, at age 31, I had a double mastectomy and will soon be starting a short but aggressive course of chemotherapy. Building a family has always been an important part of my future goals. I do not want my cancer to prevent me from doing that. Fertility preservation is a means to help protect that goal, but it is costly. I have worked hard being frugal in order to always pay for my own living expenses while repaying graduate student loans and while exclusively working in the nonprofit field. Finding out I had received assistance with the cost of the egg retrieval process from Team Maggie was the good piece of news I needed during a hard time to help remain strong. I am very appreciative and will remind myself of this act of kindness during the harder times and know there is goodness in the world worth keeping your head up for.
Feel free to reach out to Jamie if you have been diagnosed with cancer as she will be glad to mentor you through what to expect. Contact her through her website:
As devastating as it was to find out at age 31 that I have breast cancer and I will be losing my breasts, it was as equally devastating to hear that I am at risk of losing my fertility as a result of chemotherapy. I absolutely adore my nephews and have worked so hard to become ready for children of my own. With everything that I have to give up for my overall health and well-being, I feel like I am also giving up what makes me a woman and potentially losing the opportunity to start a family. If it wasn't for a foundation such as Team Maggie, I wouldn't have the opportunity to preserve my fertility. Thank you Team Maggie for giving me the opportunity to have a family!
At age 24, I was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. I had just moved to a new city to start my PhD, and my boyfriend and I got an apartment together with plans for a future family and a life together. Chemo is quite literally life-saving, but being told your life is in danger without the treatment, and that the treatment involves jeopardizing all your future dreams of a family is a heartbreaking moment. I knew I had to preserve my eggs while I still had the chance, but the cost without insurance (especially for a 24-year-old student) is quite staggering. Team Maggie helped out and made affording the treatment a possibility. Now I can head into chemotherapy treatment with peace of mind, knowing that I was able to do what I could to plan for the future! Having that additional hope is so critical to going into the chemotherapy positive and determined--thanks Team Maggie for making that possible!
At the age of 18 I have been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. I had not previously thought about whether to have children in the future or not but thanks to my doctors I was informed about fertility treatment before I started chemo. I was allowed to freeze my eggs for future use and was lucky enough to receive support and a grant from Team Maggie.
When I was 27 I was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer and told that the treatment would significantly impact my ability to have children. Having never questioned whether I wanted a family, this was devastating news. I am so grateful that Team Maggie was able to provide the help and support to make my dream of one day having a family possible.
January 5, 2016, my life was turned up side down. I still relive the moment I heard “it’s cancer” over and over in my head. Here I was, just graduated with my master’s, had accepted a position, and was getting ready to start a family; I immediately felt like everything I had worked so hard for was being taken from me. One of the first thoughts I had after getting the dreadful news was, “there goes my chance at having a family”. Being in the medical field, I knew exactly what chemo was going to do to my reproductive organs and that fertility preservation was necessary, I also knew it was expensive and not covered by my insurance. I felt such guilt even considering the option because the medical bills were about to start piling up, student loans were due, and I wasn’t certain when I would be able to work; “how could I put such a financial burden on my husband”, I thought to myself. There was very little time to make a decision before treatment would start, so we decided to make a consultation appointment to see if we could possibly afford such a service and the nurse immediately handed me a Team Maggie application. For the first time since my diagnosis, I felt hopeful and when I was awarded the grant, I felt a sense of control and that cancer wasn’t going to deprive me of my hopes and dreams. Without Team Maggie, I wouldn’t have had the courage to complete the process; this organization has also given me the strength and motivation to overcome all of cancer’s obstacles.
My positive experience with Team Maggie is unconventional. I was not a recipient of any grant money. My experience instead, was one of compassion, love, and communication.
I was diagnosed with Moderately Differentiated Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, (Breast Cancer), on Feb. 9th of this year 2016. I went straight into action with my husband by my side. Spending all day every day advocating for my health and our financial well-being. This past 3 months has been the most tireless work of my 34 year old life!!
I received the best of care at USC Keck Hospital in Los Angeles, and decided on a Double Mastectomy with Reconstruction for my surgery on March 22nd. We didn't know if I would need Chemo or Radiation yet. Amidst our planning, a social worker asked us if we planned on having children. We've always agreed we want children. We just got married in June of last year 2015. Suffice it to say, we now truly know the meaning of the advice, "The first year of marriage is the hardest!".
Through this social worker's inquiry, we learned we should definitely start planning on fertility treatments during the interim of my surgery and finding out if I needed Chemo. I was SO overwhelmed.
Enter Team Maggie. The social worker gave us the grant application packet, and I ended up speaking with Mary Jones the night before my big surgery. I was so nervous. Scared. She could not have been nicer. She told me her daughter had been diagnosed in her 20's with the same cancer. She had beaten the cancer, was past it, and was now a mother of a beautiful baby girl. Mary took the time to educate me on Team Maggie as an option for me and treated me as if I too was one of her children going through this process. I felt an instant closeness to her. I guess sometimes you can feel the warmth of a person's soul through the telephone.
While trying to have children I was diagnosed with cervical cancer and at age 34 I had a hysterectomy. Team Maggies's grant and support is helping me harvest my eggs so I may have the opportunity to be a mom.
In 2012 and 2015 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Fertility has never been at the forefront of care but with charity's like Team Maggie the issue is finally being brought to light.