Kelly Archarya, MD, and Erin White, MS, at the Duke Fertility Center.
Reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist Kelly Archarya, MD, and Erin White, MS, IVF lab manager/program manager at the Duke Fertility Center.

Onco-Fertility Services Make Patients' Family-Dreams Come True

Sasha Zarzour and husband Billy outside the hospital holding their newborn in a carseat
Sasha Zarzour, Development Director at Caring House, a Durham-based extended stay facility for outpatients being treated at Duke Cancer Center, is a two-time survivor of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Sasha went through successful egg cryopreservation and IVF at the Duke Fertility Center in 2019. Son Bobby (top right) was born at Duke Regional Hospital in May 2020. After thinking she would be unable to have more children, Henry – her “surprise child” – was born in October 2021.

“I had a great experience and am so grateful for the team at the Duke Fertility Center,” says Zarzour. “They knew how much my husband Billy and I wanted to have children, and they were willing to do whatever they could to make that a reality. The best thing is that they were thinking about my entire life – not just my cancer."

A cancer diagnosis brings with it a flood of emotions — sometimes one at a time, often all at once. A patient’s initial questions relate to their type of cancer, course of treatment and most importantly, the likelihood of survival.

What may not immediately come to mind is the possible effect the cancer and its treatment could have on the patient’s future ability to have children. Just 20 years ago, this was rarely considered. Then cancer survival rates were lower, and the technology to preserve future fertility was not readily available.

Today, a novel collaboration between the Duke Cancer Institute’s (DCI) Supportive Care & Survivorship Center and the Duke Fertility Center is helping cancer patients' family-dreams come true.