Second, only to death, cancer is one of the human race’s greatest enemies. Really, though only second, cancer can ultimately take first place in one’s life. Even so, if it does not, it only leaves insufferable lifelong consequences. Treatment, worrying, follow-ups—cancer can consume a person and all of his loved ones.
In the case that a younger man is diagnosed with cancer, the hope to procreate can become bleak. Through no fault of his own, his own health becomes the priority. Thereafter, his spouse/partner and every other aspect of his life—including his career, housing, and possible recurrence of tumors—vie for his attention.
The Guilt of Wanting Children
Wanting children, even after your significant other has suffered through cancer, can leave one feeling guilty. Why? Because researchers posit, it has a tinge of selfishness to it. Why should someone who has been through so much now be required to care for a child? But is that really the case? Is wanting children a selfish desire? Even when one has weathered the storms of cancer?
Cancer leaves scars, this we know. However, the depth and breadth of those scars chiefly depend on the type of cancer one has weathered through. Even so, there is much more to consider when having children. For example, in the event that a parent becomes debilitated and is no longer able to care for his child, what should the other do? Is he/she able to care for both a sick partner/spouse and a child? Examining scenarios like these and answering tough questions like these are important before having a child—under any circumstances.
Still, having battled and conquered cancer, a survivor should consider his limitations as well. Conquering one of mankind’s worst enemies is no simple feat. Cancer survivors, of course, do not win these battles on their own. The teams of professionals at their side deserve a great deal of praise. But even so, if you have conquered cancer, remember that it was your body that beat the disgusting monster. So, can your body handle more? Can it handle having, raising, and supporting children?
The Likelihood of Becoming a Father
Medically, the vast majority of men who have conquered cancer can develop healthy sperm again, though there may be a period of infertility while a man recuperates. This can be due to the high fevers one experiences during recovery. Or, it may be a side effect of radiation or chemotherapy. According to a study published in the journal Human Reproduction, sperm can actually recover! Whereas women are born with all of their eggs, men can continue to produce sperm throughout their lives. Therefore, as long as the production mechanisms come back online, there should be nothing to worry about.
The Type of Cancer and Treatment
The type of cancer one was diagnosed with, and how it was treated means a great significance. It is important to note that based on where the tumors prevailed, certain bodily functions may be affected. Nevertheless, this does not serve as a guarantee to rule our having children.
For example, a man who had testicular cancer and who had one testicle removed may still be able to father children, provided the other one still functions well. Or, a man who was diagnosed with prostate cancer, may now suffer from erectile dysfunction. Yes, though this condition is unfortunate, it does not rule out having children. More importantly, it is a condition that is treatable, and over time maybe even curable!
In the case of chemotherapy, there are several aspects to consider and how they affect a man’s fertility. The dosage used each visit, what specific drugs were used, and the patient’s age at the time of treatment—this is somewhere to start. But there are many other factors and can play a role in determining a man’s fertility.
In the matter of radiation, any emissions directed at the pelvis may have a bearing on male fertility. Cranial radiation can put a man’s fertility at a higher risk and it can affect the hormone-producing glands. A decrease in testosterone and other essential hormones can become a hurdle to reproduction. Additionally, certain cancers have been directly linked to infertility. Including, acute leukemia and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
If you have been through cancer treatment and are in remission, you have earned yourself a badge of honor. Should you and your partner have the desire to procreate, consider the above carefully. Discuss your hopes honestly with each other and research your options—including your backups to procreation. Finally, see a physician and discuss with him your choices.