It’s Expensive to Preserve Your Fertility and Pay for Cancer Treatment at the Same Time. One Nonprofit Helps Combat That Cost.
Meet Anne Wendel, the founder of PreserveFertility.org and one of our Health Hero Challenge semifinalists.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be chatting with our semifinalists in the 2019 Be Well Philly Health Hero Challenge to give you a glimpse of the people who are helping Philadelphians live healthier lives. Vote once a day, every day, to help decide which of these 10 semifinalists become one of three finalists — and get a sizable donation to a charity of their choice — here.
Name: Anne Wendel
Role: Clinical director and oncofertility coordinator at Main Line Fertility and founder of PreserveFertility.org, a nonprofit devoted to combating the costs of fertility preservation for cancer patients
What motivates you to try and make Philadelphia a healthier place?
The Philadelphia area is the place that my husband and I have called home for more than 30 years, and we chose to raise our children near this wonderful city. The progress being made to make Philadelphia residents healthier — bike paths, farm-to-table restaurants, amazing health care systems — truly enriches our lives.
I want this health care revolution to include the often-overlooked subject of fertility. As the clinical director at Main Line Fertility, I know that all too often the lack of education about fertility can lead to heartbreaking outcomes and create an isolating journey for patients struggling with infertility. We need to educate Philadelphians about their fertility health, so they can make proactive decisions for their future families and end the taboo of discussing infertility. Everyone I have the privilege of serving — couples, single women, LGBTQ+ patients, oncology patients trying to preserve their fertility — will take a unique path, but I know the one common denominator is that knowledge and awareness will improve the patients’ journey and outcomes.
Describe a health- or fitness-related turning point in your life.
One day in 2016, two different young women, who had both just been diagnosed with cancer, reached out to me about preserving their fertility before cancer treatment. They both decided not to freeze their eggs, solely based on the cost. As a mother and health care professional, I was crushed. No patient who has just received a devastating cancer diagnosis should have to let go of their dreams of a family simultaneously. I knew I had to do something to relieve the burden for these patients. I started PreserveFertility.org, a nonprofit dedicated to providing funding for fertility preservation during the small window of opportunity between an individual’s cancer diagnosis and treatment.
What “policy” would you institute to make greater Philadelphia a healthier region?
I think silence keeps us sick, and there needs to be more conversation about the different ways families can be created. One in eight couples will struggle to conceive, and they need to know that there are many paths to parenthood — fertility treatments, donor eggs, sperm and embryos, adoption, and foster care. The more we educate and celebrate all these options, the easier the journey will be for those struggling to start their own families.
What’s the most important part of your health or wellness regime?
Preparation! I set my alarm for early the next morning and have my gym clothes ready, protein shake made for breakfast, work clothes in the gym bag, lunch packed the night before. I don’t have any excuses not to go to the gym. I have developed a great early-morning group of friends at my gym, and I feel accountable to themselves as well as myself.
What is your number one piece of health-related advice/encouragement?
Take care of your whole self — mind, body, soul, and fertility. Your future self (and family) will thank you!