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Building the Life He Wants

Read Time: 2 minute

Rene Vazquez poses with family and friends in Huntsman Cancer Institute’s hospital
Rene Vazquez poses with family and friends in Huntsman Cancer Institute’s hospital

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Rene Vazquez knew he wanted to have kids someday, but at the age of 26, he wasn’t there yet. He was focused on his job and his hobbies as a filmmaker and DJ. But when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer, Rene faced the possibility of losing the chance to one day have biological kids.

Cancer treatments can pose several threats to a person’s ability to have children. Chemotherapy and radiation can damage sperm, eggs, and glands that produce reproductive hormones. Cancers of the sex organs may require surgery to remove all or part of the organ, and resulting scar tissue in the remaining organ can impair function. It’s crucial that young adults talk to their doctors—before treatment begins—about preserving the ability to have children.

Rene’s doctors brought up fertility as soon as he was diagnosed. He says the conversation made him realize how big an impact the cancer was going to have on his life.

"That alone made me think, ‘This is really happening and I have to make these big decisions,’" he says. "I never thought I’d be going through something like this."

Rene worked with the Utah Center for Reproductive Medicine at University of Utah Health, which provides services such as sperm and egg freezing. Fertility specialists work with each patient as well as the patient’s oncologists to decide which option is best.

After surgery and four cycles of chemotherapy, Rene is finished with treatment for now and will continue to visit Huntsman Cancer Institute for follow-up scans. Rene says "things have gotten a lot simpler" since his cancer diagnosis. "You start to really trim things down and understand what’s important in your life."

For him, that means doing the things he loves, spending time with family and friends, and having kids someday.

"In the future, I really want to have a family," Rene says. "I’m glad I was born in these times where we have the technology to preserve fertility and build the life you want."

Learn More about Fertility Preservation

Cancer touches all of us.