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  • Taylor Tashjian

Ice Ice, Baby

87 shots to the belly, 7 transvaginal ultrasounds (enough for a lifetime, truly), 8 blood draws, 1 surgical procedure, and at least 10.2 million mg of hormones (ok fine, dramatic). I've spent the last two weeks counting -- counting milliliters, vials, syringes, and appointments. One of the many facets of my life that changed instantaneously with this diagnosis was deciding if motherhood was something I wanted out of life. When I found out about my breast cancer, all the joys of it's growth factors -- or what feeds it -- came along too. It's like the identification number of your cancer, and mine responds heavily to estrogen. It's a strange thing to sit with: the thing that makes me more woman, is also what's trying to kill me.

Being estrogen-receptor, or ER, positive, means that I will soon be put into chemical menopause for the rest of my young adult life (I told my mom we could have hot flashes together). The shots that initiate psuedo-menopause, as well as the possibility of chemo in the near future, meant that I needed an insurance policy if I wanted to have kids in the future, and that insurance policy comes in the form of freezing eggs. I mulled over this choice for weeks, I desperately wanted to feel firm in my decision. At 25, I can't say I know myself well enough to know the big things I want out of life, I was just beginning to enjoy the comfort of adulthood and success. The reality is that I, like many other women (~10% of the female population, lets talk about this!), could for any plethora of reasons find out that me and baby-having just aren't a possibility. If I'm being honest, I'm not sure it would've devastated me, maybe because I'm young, maybe because I've always known theres a variety of other ways to become a mom. But what was happening here was unique -- I wasn't being told I couldn't have children. Instead, I had a magic genie looking into a crystal ball telling me that I likely wouldn't be able to have children, unless I went down the route of egg freezing. Now of course, the genie was actually my endocrinologist/fertility specialist (CCRM Northern VA, I can't thank you enough!) and the so called crystal ball was the gift of time. I had time to do this if I wanted to.

The process was meticulous, but not gruesome, although I know how many of you are wincing at your screens imagining yourself shooting up your belly all day long. It truly wasn't bad at all... and swear I'm not just saying that because I poke people for a living. Egg freezing is essentially playing a trick on your mind, taking medications each morning and night that trick your brain into thinking it doesn't need to release a follicle. For reference (and for the naive boys), the female body releases one mature follicle per month to mature into an egg. The name of the game with IVF is to turn that process off -- so all of the follicles that could possibly grow and mature, do. And what are you left with? Watermelon-like ovaries full of huge juicy follicles, a pregnancy-looking belly, fatigue, and some good ol' hormone irritability (sorry everyone who had to deal with me the last two weeks). What I found obscure about my two weeks of medication is the overall neutrality I felt toward the process -- here I was loading myself with hormones, initiating a decently uncomfortable process, wearing sweatpants for two weeks straight and what was I getting out of it? Cancer.

The past 14 days have been humbling, to say the least. That's something I am becoming accustomed to lately. I was reminded how fortunate I am to be young and healthy (ish). I was educated in ways that my confident/sometimes-cocky-ER-nurse-self forgot about after closing my OB/GYN books after nursing school. I was in awe of what women -- hundreds of thousands of women -- will put themselves through to reach the nirvana of motherhood in one way or another. And the truth is, I'm not one of those women. I partook in this process because I had the privilege of time, access, and affordability, none of which is lost on me. I can't say with absolute certainty that I want biological children, but I couldn't live with the regret of giving up the option. I have always considered myself a forceful woman, driven in nearly any thing, large or small, I task myself with. And while I have never felt obligated to reproduce, I can't help but appreciate the enormity in growing generations of powerful women.

My egg-freezing journey came to a close after a quick deep sleep (thank you propofol) and a 15 minute procedure. My doctor came in to visit before seeing me off and jokingly offered me a job (thanks again broken healthcare system), to which I responded "It sure would be a change of pace from the ER." From her warmth and laughter I could tell she knew what I meant (nothing about their jobs seems even remotely easy), but she eagerly remarked,

"We change people's lives, that never gets old." She was right, and she did. She gave me the gift of a future I wasn't even sure I wanted, the ability to dream and to wonder and to imagine, and eggs. 36 frozen eggs waiting for me to see through this battle and grow into a woman capable of being called "momma" one day.

See you in the future, lil' guys!

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Jan 24, 2022

Hi Taylor, I never thought I’d be meeting Jenny’s sister this way. I can already tell you are an amazing young woman, demonstrating so much strength, at a time when I know strength doesn’t come easily. Thank you for sharing your story. I am in awe of your journaling, which will no doubt benefit your mental health. You have your medical background and nursing experience on your side, as well. Your loving family and wonderful support system will continue to be there for you, long after you win this fight! I’m routing for you, and I’ll be praying for you. You’ve got this!! Love, Susan Wray 💕🙏💪


Jan 23, 2022

A possibility of a family of your own in the future is an amazing gift.., t


Jan 23, 2022

You continue to impress Taylor! Your strength & sense of humor will serve you well on this journey. Always remember, you have an army of supporters sending love & prayers every day💕


Jan 23, 2022

Love that you are so thoughtful about the whole situation and staying so positive. The world would be a better place with 36 more Taylors in it! Stay strong and know that there are lots of people sending hugs!


Jan 23, 2022

💯 awesome choice as you ‘never know’ what the future would hold or what you may want. Having that choice is awesome. Hurts my heart you are going through this so young. M heart is full that you have such an amazing support system and tribe. Hugs Taylor. We are all with you on this journey and pulling for you. 💕

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