About six years ago, Alice Crisci maxed out her credit card with a $20,000 payment to freeze her embryos. She had just been diagnosed with breast cancer and, knowing she could become infertile after undergoing chemotherapy, wanted to maximize her chances of becoming pregnant one day, ABC 7 News reported.
Roughly eight months ago, after surviving breast cancer and blogging about the hardships of miscarriage, Crisci gave birth to her son, Dante.
"As outside of the box that that might seem to a lot of people in terms of how to become a parent," she told the news source. "It is an absolute dream come true for me."
According to the American Cancer Society, chemo may damage the ovaries and reduce the amount of hormones they produce. Also, radiation therapy that affects the uterus may increase the risk of miscarriage, premature birth and low birth weight, Cancer.net notes.
Facts like these are in part what motivated Crisci to start My Vision Foundation, now named Fertile Action, in 2008. The organization helps women who've had cancer become mothers, as Crisci knows firsthand the emotional and financial burdens of the pregnancy process before, during and after experiencing the disease.
Fertile Action helps women by decreasing fertility preservation costs by more than half, offering fertility scholarships on a sliding scale basis, and advocating for physicians to educate cancer patients about fertility during the treatment planning phase.
Last week, the organization announced it would be partnering with leading Los Angeles-based cancer specialists to launch a first of its kind medical cooperative to further Fertile Action's mission.
Dr. Maggie DiNome, one of the physicians partnering with Crisci's organization, said she joined the cause to put a light at the end of the tunnel for her patients.
"As a breast cancer surgeon, one of the most disheartening conversations I have to have is to tell a young patient in one breath that not only does she have breast cancer, but also that the lifesaving treatments that we recommend may leave her infertile," Dr. DiNome states in a press release for the launch. "We are fighting to change that by creating this comprehensive community network with top breast specialists, oncologists, OBGYNs and infertility specialists."
To learn more about the work being done at Fertile Action, visit the organization's website.