I just read an article about a man who recently fathered a set of twins — a boy and a girl. What’s different about this story is that the man was diagnosed with prostate cancer at age 43 and had had a prostatectomy. As a result, his body was no longer producing sperm. But through modern technology, specifically in-vitro fertilization with sperm that had been banked, the PC patient and his wife were able to have more children. Fortunately, the man is also cancer free.
The new father was quoted as saying:
“We’re very happy that we now have three kids. Maybe thanks to the cancer, we have three kids instead of two.”
I guess he’s referring to the fact that in-vitro fertilization results in more multiple births than old-fashioned conception. But “‘thanks to the cancer’?? Now that’s being generous.
Speaking of fertility: Last year there was a first-ever rally for cancer survivors here in NYC that was sponsored by Sloan-Kettering hospital. I found out about it through a TV commercial which featured two, young, extremely attractive people speaking about their experiences with the disease. Both said they were diagnosed with cancer at a young age, but thanks to modern medicine and Sloan, they were able to lead full lives — including having beautiful, healthy children.
When I get frustrated about the slow progress we’re making with cancer I think of these people. A generation ago they would have remained childless.
Well, dear husb and I ended up going to the cancer rally, which was more like a picnic on the waterfront downtown. By the time we arrived the food was gone, but we did get in line for a free massage. There were a few masseurs who had set up makeshift tables and were giving the cancer folks a well-deserved 5-minute rubdown. When it got to DH’s turn the masseur gave him a quick feel-up and shooed him away. Didn’t need much work. But when he got to me he lingered for about 20 minutes. At one point he told me that my “spiritual centers were out of balance”. I freaked out.
Looking through the crowd, I noticed a tall, dark-haired man with movie-star looks, early 30’s maybe, who had a little girl with blonde pigtails, about seven years old, tagging along with him wherever he went. Then I realized it was the “spokesmodel” from the TV commercial! I went over and introduced myself. We chatted for a bit and the man told me that he had Hodgkins Disease as a teenager and had been through the wringer, including several rounds of radiation and chemotherapy. In spite of that, he said he was grateful for the good care he received at MSK and the fact that he was here to talk about it.
I admired the little blonde girl with the pigtails and said to the man, “This must be the miracle child”. He smiled broadly and answered, “Yes”, while the child clung to him even tighter.
If you have cancer, procreation can be an expensive business. We have husb’s sperm sitting in a freezer at a cost of $400 a year. And I remember what a production it was to deliver it to the bank. T. had to get up early and produce the “goods”, while I had to deliver it because he had to leave for work right away. The sperm bank was on the other end of town, near NYU hospital, which is not near any subway. So I remember running like crazy, elbowing my way through the rush-hour crowd, trying to get there within an hour. Otherwise the sample would be useless.
I don’t know why T. wants to bank his sperm in the first place, because we have no plans to do anything with it. It’s all psychological. But who knows, maybe he’ll get lucky, find a young girlfriend, and have a couple of kids . . .
Sounds good to me. At the least, they’ll be good-looking.