Cancer patient hopes personal experience will inspire others to help fertility support group

Health

DENVER (KDVR) — A local cancer patient opened up about his fertility and the help he got to preserve it from a national nonprofit. The 24-year-old now has a shot of starting his own family even after undergoing months of chemo treatments.  

Aaron Coates started 2020 with difficult news. His doctors said he was suffering from a rare sarcoma. The diagnosis was overwhelming.  

“Possibly dying, dealing with treatment and what my job is going to think,” said Coates.  

He would have to undergo chemotherapy, which also meant he was suddenly forced to think about his future family.  

“I never thought that it would be questioned. I always thought that I’d have the option to have kids,” said Coates.  

Dr. Leslie Appiah, division chief of OB/GYN and director of Fertility Preservation at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, explained chemotherapy can impact a patient’s fertility.  

 “The male testes are more sensitive, so they are really at great risk,” said Appiah.  

Appiah helps patients preserve their fertility though different procedures but pointed out it is expensive. She said depending on the procedure, it can cost from $7,000 to $22,000. She also said generally, it is not covered by insurance.  

“So providing those funds for them so they can proceed is a huge benefit,” said Appiah.  

Her office works with Team Maggie. The nonprofit offers grants to patients just like Coates to help cover the cost of preservation. Coates learned about Team Maggie through his social worker at UCHealth. Coates applied and was awarded a grant.  

“I’m going to be an avid supporter of Team Maggie. I want to be able to help other young adults,” said Coates.  

Team Maggie is holding a virtual 5k/10k on Saturday, Sept. 19. Appiah said the goal for the Colorado participants is to raise $7,500, which would cover the cost of one male and one female preservation.  

Coates is currently disease-free. His right foot was amputated as a result of the cancer but he will be getting a prosthetic next month, which means he can’t run for Team Maggie this weekend but will in the future. 

Visit the organization’s website for information on how to support the group and register for the event.  

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