Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Interview with Dr Raewyn Teirney
Interview with Dr Raewyn Teirney
For breast cancer awareness month this October, IVFAustralia’s leading fertility specialist, Dr Raewyn Teirney discusses how her passion as a fertility specialist evolved following her own journey with breast cancer, and the impact being a patient herself has had on her patient care. She also shares the importance of discussing fertility preservation options with women who face this challenging diagnosis, as she embarks to raise awareness about this important issue.
What does Breast Cancer Awareness month mean to you?
Breast Cancer Awareness month is such an important initiative. It shares the message far and wide to women all around the world that they should care for themselves, and put their health as a priority by watching out for symptoms, ensuring regular checkups with their GP and not delaying mammograms if needed.
It’s very easy to do what I did – as a busy doctor working long hours, it was too easy for me to miss or ignore the initial signs and delay the mammogram appointments. Through my own experience, I am an even more passionate advocate for early diagnosis of breast cancer, and encourage all of my patients to never delay when it comes to their health.
How did your personal journey with breast cancer impact your work as a fertility specialist?
I am a far more empathetic doctor, having been a patient myself who had to surrender in a sense to my own oncologists’ and specialists’ knowledge and care, as I embarked on treatment. I can completely relate with my own patients who are facing fertility treatment and put their trust in me to help them conceive.
I also have such sympathy for young women having to go through chemotherapy – and as a fertility specialist, it really sparked my passion for increasing awareness and access to medical fertility preservation options.
Many young women who are faced with a breast cancer diagnosis will need to think about their future fertility.
And throughout their journey, they will encounter support from family, friends, their GP’s and Oncologists; all of us have an opportunity to make sure they’ve had a conversation with their specialist about the fertility preservation options available.
What are the fertility preservation options for women facing chemotherapy or radiation?
There are many options depending on their individual circumstances, from freezing eggs, freezing embryos, freezing ovarian tissue or medications which may protect the ovaries from toxic chemotherapy drugs.
Freezing eggs can be a very quick process – a woman would usually need hormonal stimulation for 10 – 12 days prior to the egg collection procedure. If you or someone you know has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, it’s important to be aware that this doesn’t mean fertility has to come to an end.
At IVFAustralia, we can urgently set up appointments the same day or the next day to give all the information required, and ensure there’s no delay if they would like to preserve fertility before beginning chemotherapy.
What’s changed in regards to fertility preservation?
Certainly that we are better at freezing eggs, and the survival rates of eggs or embryos are far improved compared to even five years ago. Technology is constantly evolving, and success rates are getting better.
About Dr Raewyn Teirney
Dr Raewyn Teirney has been working in Gynaecology and Infertility for more than 20 years. As a FRANZCOG fertility specialist she has helped countless couples achieve their dream of a baby. Raewyn is renowned for her caring approach and the time she spends with patients to discuss all options. Learn more about Raewyn here.
If you need to have therapy for cancer or a serious illness, with a referral from your oncologist, it is possible for us to arrange an appointment with one of our fertility specialists within 24-48 hours.
Please mention you have a referral from an oncologist when you contact us so we can fast track your appointment. Learn more here.