Real victory: to win and be a mother

To win against cancer is not all. For many women, a real victory is to win against cancer and be a mother. Tomasz Waśniewski, MD, from the Faculty of Medical Sciences at the University of Warmia and Mazury, Olsztyn, is the first physician in Poland to conduct a surgery which gives a chance to be a mother to those women who have won against cancer.

Facts are implacable: a growing number of women are falling victim to cancer while the mean age of the patients is on the wane. However, a growing number of patients have a good fortune to recover. Each type of healed cancer significantly reduces chances of pregnancy.

"This is a side effect of both chemotherapy and radiotherapy," explains Tomasz Waśniewski, MD.

However, many women patients fail to experience happiness as they return to normal life after successful cancer treatment. They are strongly affected by the fact they cannot find fulfilment as mothers. Doctors, who identified the phenomenon a long time ago, have sought ideas to help them.

"I have always been intrigued by the way oncology and gynaecology come together. Several years ago, as I was reading professional literature on the subject, I came across a reference that French doctors used a new method in 2004 to protect ovaries in a 24-year-old female patients undergoing chemotherapy." The method helps patients to become pregnant and have babies once the treatment comes to a successful close. The method requires that, prior to cancer treatment, doctors extract an ovary or part of ovary tissue from the woman's body and then freeze it. Once the treatment comes to a successful close, the ovary or part of it is implanted in the woman's body again to allow natural insemination. This is how ca. 100 babies have already been born globally.”

The method seems deceptively simple.

"Clinical researchers are not sure if by implanting an ovary again to the woman's body we are not infecting her with cancer, as it were. It took me a long time to implement a method to freeze and defrost an ovary or ovary tissue without damaging it. It was also necessary to develop an optimum storage environment. The surgery to extract an ovary or part of it is not complicated at all. We use laparoscopy," explains Tomasz Waśniewski, MD.

Dr Waśniewski is soon going to perform the first surgery to return the ovary, as it were, to a woman after successful cancer treatment. Anna, aged 34, has agreed to be the patient.

"When Anna was diagnosed with malignant cancer, she wrote over her bed “Anna 2015”. She set herself a goal to recover and have a baby. She is a very brave woman, and she never lost hope throughout the treatment," says Tomasz Waśniewski.

One might wonder if he feels he is doing something special, something which gives hope and strength to thousands of women fighting against cancer.

"I don't. My goal is to develop a method that works, and to build a nationwide cancer treatment system," adds Tomasz Waśniewski.

 Tomasz Waśniewski, MD, is 46 years old. He is Assistant Professor at the Chair of Gynaecology, Gynaecological Endocrinology and Obstetrics at the Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Warmia and Mazury. He plays the bass guitar with Painkillers in his spare time, and he plays basketball at weekends.

Lech Kryszałowicz


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