After cancer diagnosis, fertility clinic gives hope to couple

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by SHELLY SLATER

WFAA

Posted on October 12, 2012 at 7:38 AM

DALLAS -- Nine months after getting married, Jennifer and Zac Fowler were living out their life's plan: Buy a home, then start a family.

That is, until Jennifer went in for a routine OBGYN visit.

"I was 36 at the time, and she wanted me to have a baseline mammogram," Jennifer Fowler said.

No reason for concern, just a proactive approach.

"I didn't have a family history, I didn't feel a lump -- I was completely blindsided," Mrs. Fowler said.

The mammogram showed cancer; a diagnosis that hit Jennifer in the gut.

"I struggled even telling family and friends I had cancer," she said. "I couldn't even -- those words wouldn't even come out of my mouth."

"When you're presented with something you can't fix, that you can't take care of, you feel helpless," Zac Fowler said.

After treatments were determined, the next big question: what about having kids?

That's where Dr. Karen Lee with Dallas Fertility Associates comes in. Her goal is to provide hope during a dark time.

"Get information," Dr. Lee said. "Try not to be paralyzed by the fear of this new diagnosis."

Leaning on Lee's knowledge, the Fowlers decided to freeze six embryos for later use.

"It was insurance for us, because we didn't know what the next five years was going to hold," Jennifer said.

The process of taking an early embryo from the freezing, into the thawing, and then transferring it into the woman is a very delicate process. At Dallas Fertility Associates, they say the rate of success is about 50 percent.

Jennifer had wait years to go through the process herself in order to get surgery and take medications.

"I did probably 10 pregnancy tests before I went in for the blood tests," she said.

"So when she took her 15 pregnancy tests in a row, she kept saying, 'Is this a line? Is this a line?'" Zac Fowler laughed.

It was a line.

Now 39 years old, Jennifer's in vitro fertilization was a success.

"I was really nervous and scared," she said. "I think in the back of my mind, I had this negative mindset of, 'What if this doesn't happen? Am I prepared to go through another loss?'"

"There have been emotional breakdowns, ups and downs [from] cancer rage to sobbing uncontrollably," Mr. Fowler said.

"It's hard," Jennifer Fowler said. "For two years, breast cancer defined my life. I feel like now I can close that chapter and open another and become a mom. It's a really cool feeling."

We asked her what it would be like to see and hold her baby for the first time.

"He's a miracle in my mind," Mrs. Fowler said.

E-mail sslater@wfaa.com

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