Cancer survivor urges others to consider fertility before treatment

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
A cancer survivor from Forest Row urges others to consider their fertility before undergoing treatment.

Krista Smith was diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer during lockdown in May 2020. After enjoying an active lifestyle, the disease left her with severe mobility issues and unable to walk properly.

However, her biggest regret of all is that the cancer treatment left her infertile.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Krista, aged 40, is now encouraging other young cancer patients to investigate all their options fully prior to treatment.

‘It’s my biggest regret’: cancer survivor from Forest Row urges others to consider their fertility before undergoing treatment.‘It’s my biggest regret’: cancer survivor from Forest Row urges others to consider their fertility before undergoing treatment.
‘It’s my biggest regret’: cancer survivor from Forest Row urges others to consider their fertility before undergoing treatment.

In an in-depth interview with Macmillan Cancer Support on their Talking Cancer podcast, Krista shares her experience in the hope that other young men and women aren’t left with the same regrets.

Krista said: “My biggest regret is that I wanted to have a family and now my chances of that happening are about 1%. But I’m open to a miracle. I wish I had explored my options further but, when I was first diagnosed, I was having lots of words thrown at me and thought it would be best if I just got on with my cancer treatment, even though it was a hard pill to swallow. It seemed, at the time, as if the choice was my fertility or my life.

“I started to feel ill in July 2019 and went to the doctor. I had migraines and was constantly tired. I was unable to stand on my tiptoes or back on my heels and was sent straight to A&E.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“It took almost a year to get a full diagnosis which I received in May 2020 as, at first, I was treated for an auto immune disease. I was eventually told I had a rare form of blood cancer - POEMS syndrome. It was the last thing I expected, and it all felt like a surreal dream.

“I was quickly put on a course of chemotherapy, which was administered at home, and had a stem cell transplant in Nov 2020. The cancer damages your nerves and affects other parts of your body so after treatment, I was unable to walk at all for over 4 weeks and I even found holding a pen or packet of crisps hard. I also had to isolate for almost a year due to Covid and my weakened immune system.

“I now know that undergoing fertility treatment and harvesting my eggs would have delayed my cancer treatment by a few weeks but would not have affected my chances of recovery, so I wish I had explored the options further.”

Krista is now in recovery and working with a specialist team to get her mobility back. She continues to surprise doctors with her progress, although she can still only walk with the help of leg braces. Despite all of this, and the loss of her previously active and adventurous lifestyle.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Krista now feels that young people with cancer should have all their options explained to them fully which is why she is speaking so openly about her experience.

Krista adds, “For young girls (and men) going through cancer treatment, fertility may not be something that goes through their mind. However, it will be something they think about later down the track and there should be more emphasis on these life-changing decisions.

“Cancer is not the end; it is just an arduous journey and looking beyond is important and hard to do when you come face to face with a cancer diagnosis. Planning long term and looking to the future is just as important.

“Before I had cancer, I thought that Macmillan were just nurses, but I now realise they offer so much more. During my recovery, I talked to the experts on their support line about all sorts of things such as how to get counselling, financial grants, massages and physical therapy. They were a stable presence both over the phone, particularly during lockdown when I was isolating, and face-to- face in their centres. They held my hand. Macmillan can help provide you with the support you need around fertility and cancer and they can help you ask all the necessary questions so you can fully navigate the journey ahead with success.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Krista has been told that it will take two to three years for her mobility to improve fully, but she has found surrounding herself with active people to be like a ‘magic pill’.

To listen into Krista’s interview and Macmillan’s Talking Cancer podcast series visit:

If you have questions about cancer, you can call the Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 0000 8am-8pm, 7 days a week or search fertility in women and fertility in men on the website: .

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.