Fertility Preservation Journey
- Peter Bastone: CEO, Proud Father, Survivor
- Alice Crisci: Fertile Action Founder, Visionary, Survivor
- Dan Hale: Optimist, Hopeful Husband, Survivor
- Matthew Zachary: I'm Too Young For This! Founder, Proud New Dad, Young Adult Cancer Survivor
Inspiring Journeys of Those Who Chose to Pursue Fertility Preservation
Peter Bastone: CEO, Proud Dad of Four, Cancer Survivor:
Creating Success in the Face of Adversity
One look at Peter Bastone, the fit and well dressed CEO of Mission Hospital, and you would never imagine that this is a man who has beat cancer not once, but twice and is the proud father of four children conceived by IVF with sperm stored prior to cancer treatment.
At the young age of 17, Peter Bastone was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, which at the time came with a life expectancy of 3-5 years. Bastone never considered the effects the radiation therapy may have on his fertility. His main focus was on surviving.
"When you are diagnosed with cancer, the only thing you are focused on is beating it," Peter says.
However, it was a conversation with a hospital social worker that opened his eyes to the possibility of fertility preservation. On the recommendation he received, Peter banked his semen specimens prior to the start of his treatment regime. He postponed his acceptance to Princeton for a year and received the treatment he needed.
Motivated by the events in his life, Peter's aspiration was to go to medical school. When he was told he would likely not get in due to his cancer, it only inspired him more to succeed.
And succeeding in life is just what he did. Team Captain of Princeton Football Team, Speaker for the American Cancer Society, and the recipient of a Master's Degree in Business and Public Health from UC Berkeley are just some of the achievements Peter had in his youth.
Unfortunately, in 1986 Peter Bastone's cancer returned. This time the treatment would require chemotherapy and the doctors warned Peter that the treatment could make him sterile. He stored several semen specimens with California Cryobank in the hopes to one day have children of his own which he did a few years later with his wife, Julie.
Peter's proudest achievement to date has been the beautiful family he shares with Julie, complete with four children conceived by IVF. A proud father, Peter beams when he shows pictures of his wife and children: Frankie, Dominic, Gino and Rachel.
Peter's journey with cancer and infertility inspired him to develop a fertility program at Century City Hospital in the 1980's. He also recognizes the importance of increasing awareness of the fertility preservation options available to young adults who are diagnosed with cancer each year.
"There has never been a progressive effort to have these types of discussions with cancer patients… If you are a young person, you look towards marriage and having children," he says.
Peter Bastone, a leader in the healthcare industry, is excited about the great strides that have been made in the science dealing with cancer and infertility.
"The science continues to improve… the chances of having a child, your own child, are growing each year with changes in technology," says Peter.
Now, Peter is the CEO of Mission Hospital and has so many more accomplishments to date.
"Everything I have done since I have had cancer was not expected," Peter reflects.
An unexpected success and true inspiration, Peter's story gives hope to many cancer patients and survivors looking to make a mark in the world and have a family of their own someday.
Alice Crisci: Passionate Advocate, Fertile Action Founder, Cancer Survivor:
From Vision to Victory
Alice Crisci, founder of Fertile Action, was diagnosed with breast cancer on February 27, 2008. She was 31 years old. Knowing she wanted to be a mother, she proactively sought answers to her concerns about infertility. She found few resources to help her decision-making or with the financial cost to fertility preservation.
100% sure she wanted to be a mother, Alice moved forward with one round of fertility preservation prior to her double mastectomy. Upon hearing about the low success rates of traditional egg freezing, she chose embryo freezing as her primary fertility preservation method, hoping she could retrieve enough eggs to fertilize half and freeze the other half. Single, Alice was referred to the California Cryobank (CCB) to select donor sperm.
Handed a catalogue of donor statistics, Alice felt like she was a talent scout recruiting for a basketball team. With determination and a lot of humor, she narrowed down her choices by reviewing all pieces of data CCB provides including audio interviews, baby pictures, donor essays, extensive medical history and donor profiles. She eventually settled on a French, Mexican and Spanish med student with tall uncles on both sides of the family and a spotless medical history.
Admitting the donor sperm selection process was daunting at first, she quickly fell in love with her future "Baby Daddy", and subsequently, her embryos. While she was literally incubating her eggs, she was figuratively incubating Fertile Action, a breast cancer organization for women of reproductive age. The same week that her doctor retrieved 31 eggs (an unusually high amount due to ovarian hyperstimulation), Alice launched the foundation's first website, three short weeks after her diagnosis.
Alice is now the proud mom of 14 frozen embryos (known to her board member Haley as "Totsickles") and 11 frozen eggs. She is also a fertility preservation spokeswoman for California Cryobank, a columnist for the Huffington and is the Executive Director of My Vision. Her life before breast cancer remains a blur as she courageously embraces a reinvented life, one richer and fuller than she ever imagined was possible.
* Inspired by Alice's experience, California Cryobank is a proud participant in Fertile Action's program to provide discounted embryo/egg storage and donor semen services to women affected by cancer. For more information, http://fertile-future.com/learning/financial-assistance-programs
Dan Hale: Newly Married, World Traveler, Cancer Survivor:
Life's hurdles offer unique opportunities, hope and sometimes miracles!
Marriage is supposed to be an exciting beginning for a couple as Dan Hale courted Jeanette Soloma for a year and half to propose to her on New Year’s Eve 2006.
Typical excitement brews as you select a date, plan for your wedding and sacred promises to one another in front of family and friends. A future together filled with love, harmony, dreams and family planning.
Dan, an optimist and charismatic regional sales manager for Festool USA, never expected a cancer diagnosis, especially at the age of 42. On Thanksgiving of 2007, Dan walked into the ER where his body was systematically shutting down. With his potassium levels at 1.4, his body was slowly shutting down the use of his hand, arms and then legs to keep the brain, heart and lungs operating.
Released after stabilizing and identifying a tumor in a gland, Dan would shortly undergo a laparoscopic adrenalectomy. After the surgery, news came back that the tumor was malignant, which one would have thought the worse. However, the initial diagnosis was that the tumor was entirely encapsulated within the removed organ and there were no signs that it had spread. With a smile, he was a cancer survivor and didn't even know it!
Life and plans of an exciting future together resumed. In April 2008, Dan and Jeanette took their vows on a beach in Tulum, Mexico before family and friends. They began conversations and planning of quality time together before they started a family and when that might happen. New Year's Eve 2010 in Paris, France seemed to fit both their conception goals.
However, at a follow up medical visit, a scan revealed that the removed malignant tumor had metastasized and spread to Dan's lungs and near his heart. Three new sizable tumors were identified. With an additional scan the couple also learned that the tumors were also aggressively growing and were in delicate and dangerous locations ruling out surgery.
Dan and Jeanette's journey is one of optimism and positive thinking. The first positive step taken was towards planning and cementing their future together. They contacted California Cryobank and arranged to bank a number of vials before Dan underwent chemo therapy.
Emotional planning towards a healthy future together with Jeanette and children helped Dan through what should have been a very difficult time. After 8 months of treatment, they received the good news that not only had the three areas of concern shrank, they had disappeared altogether. The doctor's excitement really confirmed to Dan that this was a miracle.
To share with his bride and rekindle the conversation that they were going to be healthy together and have a family was priceless. Looking back on follow up visits with the doctors, lab results and scans, it was a positive attitude and hope that Dan attributes to making it through this. The confidence that Dan had safely banked their future with California Cryobank provided a great deal of peace and focus for both his wife and himself. Currently, Dan is cancer free with a bright future.
He is looking forward to hopefully a new addition to the family in 2010.
Matthew Zachary: I'm Too Young For This! Founder, Proud New Dad, Young Adult Cancer Survivor
As a 14-year young adult brain cancer survivor who was originally diagnosed just six months shy of my college graduation, I know all too well the imperative of fertility preservation. I do not see it as an option, rather a right, for anyone diagnosed with cancer in their fertile years.
My generation tends to fall off the radar when it comes to these survivorship issues, which is why I proudly founded the I'm Too Young For This! Cancer Foundation in 2007 - the voice of young adults.
Today, we are the nation's leading grassroots advocate for the next generation of survivors and caregivers. We exist to ensure that every young adult affected by cancer is given access to the best age-appropriate support they are entitled o in order to get busy living at every stage of their survivorship.
For more information, please visit stupidcancer.com
Exciting Update from Matthew - In May 2010, Matthew became a new dad to twins!
Being a father of twins is a life-changing shift in my perception, understanding and appreciation for the life, the universe and everything in between. It is the greatest gift I could have ever hoped for in my life - a life I do not take for granted at any moment in time.