In June 2008 I became a mother for the first (and ultimately the last) time. Our beautiful daughter will be our only child, and she is perfect. Except when she wakes up at 5 a.m., or has a meltdown in the grocery store, or douses our labradoodle in Vaseline (but I’ll save all that for another post).
Our path to parenthood was a tough one. It started with my cancer diagnosis at age 30, and ended with my sister acting as our gestational surrogate and carrying our daughter for us. When people say their children are a blessing, I completely understand the sentiment. And while a lot of love when into the making of our daughter, the reality is a lot of money was needed, too.
On April 10, 2003 my life changed in an instant. Cancer. There would be chemotherapy and radiation — both of which would have negative consequences for my fertility. But there was a glimmer of hope — my oncologist gave me the go ahead to do a round of in vitro-fertilization (IVF) before starting chemo. I was ‘lucky’, so to speak, because many cancer patients don’t have the luxury of time before they have to start treatment. I met with a fertility specialist the next day and two weeks later I started medications for a quickie IVF cycle. We had one shot, and luckily it worked. Twenty embryos went into a deep freeze, and one of those became our daughter.
It may have been fast, but it was expensive. And not a single fertility drug or invasive treatment I needed was covered by OHIP — even with my history and diagnosis. What amazed me at the time was that I couldn’t get even one penny of coverage for IVF, but a woman with blocked fallopian tubes could (did I mention part of my treatment was surgery where my fallopian tubes would be cut?). That is still true today, and I am no less frustrated about it now than I was back then.
The fertility centre where I did my IVF has since implemented a compassionate care program for cancer patients, but in those days it didn’t exist. So we were on the hook for over $12,000, with no time to save or budget for the massive expense that comes with the Cadillac of fertility treatments. I was still a student when I was diagnosed, doing a post-grad degree, so I was unemployed. My boyfriend (now husband) was younger than me and just starting his career. Needless to say, we did not have the money. And that is where our story could have ended. But thankfully, it didn’t.
My grandmother stepped in without hesitation and gave us every last penny we needed. She sadly passed away last year, and even though our daughter was too young to really know her, she will always understand the gift my Nana gave us. In many ways, my Nana gave us our future. Because what would have happened otherwise? I’d like to think we would have found a way to pay, but who knows. It makes me so sad to think of anyone else being in that situation, having to make that choice and not having someone to offer up the funds. If we had been forced to forgo the IVF due to cost, our daughter would not be here today. That would have been quite the price to pay.
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Please follow @OHIP4IVF on Twitter or the hashtag #OHIP4IVF to support government funding for IVF. Help other couples become parents, without the financial burden that comes with infertility.*I am sharing my story as a member of the Conceivable Dreams blog team, and have been compensated for this post. Opinions and the words I’ve written, however, are all my own.