Becoming a Parent after Cancer

Alisa, Mary Jo, and Tony join me today to discuss Alisa’s breast cancer diagnosis and how it impacted her fertility. Tony explains the rarity of breast cancer in young adult women and the unique challenges younger cancer patients face during treatment. He illustrates his experience working with Alisa as both her oncologist and colleague and discusses why her story continues to inspire him. Alisa shares her fertility journey after cancer, as well as her decision to use a surrogate and donor eggs. Alisa and Mary Jo also describe the joy Bodhi has brought to their lives and underscore how his birth has helped them move forward.

Alisa Ross is a certified medical assistant at Green Bay Oncology / HSHS St Vincent Cancer Center. In 2017, Alisa was diagnosed with Stage 2 HER2 breast cancer. She later pursued a technical diploma in Surgical Technology at Northeastern Wisconsin Technical College while simultaneously undergoing cancer treatment. Inspired by the compassionate care she received during her own journey, she offers vital support and empathy to patients facing similar battles. Five years after her cancer diagnosis, Alisa’s life is graced by the birth of her son, Bodhi, who brings joy to her and Alisa’s mother, Mary Jo.

Mary Jo Ross, a retired Registered Nurse, played a pivotal role in Alisa’s cancer journey. With a nursing education from St. Luke’s Hospital School of Nursing in Racine, WI, and a BSN from the University of Alaska, Mary Jo brought unwavering maternal support to Alisa as she navigated her journey through cancer.

Dr. Anthony Jaslowski is a physician at Green Bay Oncology. Tony received his Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Air Force Academy. He attended medical school at the Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine in Chicago and completed his internship residency and his hematology and oncology fellowship at Wilford Hall Medical Center at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. He is board-certified in internal medicine, medical oncology, and hematology and is a fellow of the American College of Physicians. At Green Bay Oncology, Tony serves as Alisa’s oncologist and colleague.

“Each cancer patient has their own story, their own life circumstances, what they struggle with. For younger patients, you always worry how it’s going to affect them for the rest of their lives.” – Dr. Tony Jaslowski

This week on Cancer Covered:

  • Alisa’s Stage 2 HER2 breast cancer diagnosis and her neoadjuvant chemotherapy
  • The rarity and median age of breast cancer in young women
  • The unique challenges a younger cancer patient might face during treatment
  • Chemotherapy’s toxicity and its potential permanent and reversible side effects
  • How certain chemotherapy drugs can impact fertility in young women
  • Approaches to preserving the fertility of young cancer patients
  • The evolution of breast cancer treatment in young adults
  • The use of markers like estrogen receptor status, progesterone receptor status, and HER2 status to determine treatment for breast cancer
  • Advancements in understanding HER2-positive tumors and the development of monoclonal antibodies
  • Utilizing chemotherapy before surgery
  • Jaslowski’s experience working alongside Alisa as both her oncologist and colleague
  • How Alisa’s cancer journey inspires Dr. Jaslowski
  • Alisa’s fertility journey after her cancer diagnosis
  • The challenges Alisa faced during the egg retrieval process
  • The decision to use a surrogate and donor eggs
  • The birth of Alisa’s son, Bodhi, and the joy he brings to her life
  • Alisa’s advice to young women facing cancer and fertility challenges
  • Mary Jo’s perspective as a grandmother to Bodhi

Connect with Alisa Ross:

  • Alisa Ross on LinkedIn

Connect with Dr. Anthony Jaslowski:

  • Anthony Jaslowski on LinkedIn

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