Clinical trial allowed breast cancer survivor to have baby Zohrah
A Drogheda mum has spoken about the difficult choices she had to make as a cancer survivor whether to stop vital hormone treatment or try for a baby.
Sharzie Delaney was diagnosed with breast cancer at just 33, and having endured surgery to remove a lump, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, had to make the heart-breaking decision whether to continue hormone therapy for the recommended five years, or follow her heart and try for a much-wanted baby.
Now five years cancer-free, considering her beautiful daughter Zohrah with her husband Ian has just celebrated her second birthday, there’s no prizes for guessing the chance she took, and doesn’t regret for a second!
“It was back in October 2016 when I was examining myself and found a lump on my breast, so went to my GP to have it checked out,” explains Sharzie, who is a a trained Montessori teacher, who works in a creche in Bettystown. “I was referred to a breast clinic and after tests, waited about three months to be diagnosed with breast cancer.”
Devastating to the young couple, Sharzie was operated on, and began chemotherapy and radiation therapy straight away, with hormone therapy following rapidly afterwards.
"You can’t get pregnant while on the hormone therapy, but having a baby is all I wanted at the time” explains Sharzie. “The treatment should last five years, but during a chat with my oncologist, a clinical trial was mentioned which was essentially a research study into pregnancy and patients who have been on the hormone therapy”.
The cancer diagnosis had turned their world upside down already and now they had other difficult choice to make.
“(The cancer) changed many things, and it’s hard to put into words. When I was diagnosed I just went with it. I did what I had to and tried to be positive,” says the young mum. “A year or so later is when I think it l sank in, what I had been through, and how it had affected me. Now when I hear the word ‘cancer’ it instantly brings me back. I’m definitely more anxious but, on the positive side, now I think I'm more of a ‘let's just do it’ type of person.”
After much soul-searching, Sharzie said she would like to be part of the clinical trial.
"If I could help even one person in the same position as me, to help make their decision a bit easier, then I was happy,” she says. “I felt the trial would provide information for people in the future.”
Eighteen months later, Sharzie took the decision to stop her hormone therapy and decided that she and Ian were going to try for a baby. She had already undergone IVF prior to starting chemotherapy to freeze a number of embryos.
Then in May 2020, the couple welcomed baby Zohrah into the world.
"She is beautiful; our own little fertility miracle,” she says with a smile. "I’m still off hormone treatment, because I would love another baby, so I am still monitored as part of the clinical trial, which is called Positive trial, funded by the Irish Cancer Society.”
With International Clinical Trials Day coming up on Friday May 20th, Sharzie says she would recommend people to take part in clinical trials.
"I hope I have helped women in the same situation as me by doing the trials, and most people who take part say the same,” she says with a smile.
“It was a serious of blood tests for me, every six months, and by me testing the waters, I like to think I can help other women become mums like me.”