Prescribed puberty blocker for cancer, can’t imagine giving it to healthy kids.

This July will mark my being in remission from leukemia⁤ for five years, and thus no longer being a⁢ cancer patient, and yet my journey as a perma-patient has only just ‌begun.​ As a permanent ⁢patient, I⁤ now‍ need several ​types⁤ of continued‍ care for the rest of my life because of the treatments I‍ received. It was an expected⁤ tradeoff that comes with surviving an aggressive form of leukemia called acute promyelocytic⁤ leukemia, a subtype​ of AML.

The ⁤evening I was diagnosed, not⁢ only was I told that without treatment I might not survive the night, but ​I‍ had to decide on the course ⁤of treatment‌ at once. In addition to‌ taking arsenic and all-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA), I had two options for a primary chemotherapy agent, ⁣Idarubicin or Mylotarg, and less than 24 ‍hours to decide.

I poured over the research and statistical studies, knowing the downsides ⁤after reading the package ​inserts and understanding that⁢ both‌ could hinder my fertility, albeit⁤ in different ways.⁢ I chose‍ Mylotarg (a new drug on ‍the market) instead of ‌Idarubicin as my principal chemotherapy⁢ agent for induction since⁢ I’d ⁤have less risk of hemorrhaging ⁤and could ⁢expect fewer long-term ‍side effects. I am lucky‌ to have ⁤made it out alive.

Instead, I now suffer from osteoarthritis ⁤and chronic bone pain, most likely caused ⁢by a drug called Lupron, the very ⁢same drug used to stop puberty in children claiming to be transgender.

Painful and Long-Term Side Effects

I received a Lupron injection⁤ on my first day in the hospital as⁣ part ‍of​ the other supportive care I received. The drug was prescribed for two reasons; ⁢the first‍ was because I had⁣ a hemorrhagic type of leukemia, and‌ Lupron⁣ was used to stop the risk of my period transforming into hemorrhaging. The second reason ​was to protect⁢ fertility, operating⁢ under the theory that ‍by⁢ temporarily shutting down fertility by inducing temporary menopause, the inactive system wouldn’t be exposed to the chemotherapy agents.

Although the use of Lupron to⁢ protect fertility is newer‍ and not‍ one that the ‍FDA has approved, it was prescribed matter-of-factly compared⁤ to chemotherapy agents. ⁤Ironically, none of my‍ chemotherapy agents caused hair loss, but ⁢I lost​ over half​ of my hair ​during treatment from the⁣ Lupron and wore a wig for over six months after my treatment ended.

Lupron⁢ caused both general and abdominal weight gain, but⁤ because it also caused decreased bone density, I also have chronic pain in my pelvis and arthritis⁢ in my knees from osteoarthritis‍ that ‍I ⁤didn’t have before treatment. I now get injections in my knees to walk comfortably;‍ I’ve given up ⁢my passion for trail⁣ running and generally cannot use cardio exercise to control my weight. I have to sit on a cushion at work⁣ and ​when I drive.

When I accepted Lupron as part of my cancer treatment, I‌ did so with a life-or-death diagnosis and the imminent threat of hemorrhaging.

Of course, ​many⁢ women might ⁤not have the side effects⁣ I ‌did. The drug is also ​commonly used ⁢by women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) to‌ either stimulate​ follicles or prevent ovulation before starting certain ⁣IVF protocols — all depending on the​ dosage and duration of‌ the prescription.

Giving Drugs to‌ Healthy Children

Today, Lupron is prescribed ‍as a “puberty blocker” ​for children with “gender dysphoria.” As someone who has taken it, I ‌am appalled. I cannot fathom how using Lupron on otherwise‌ healthy‌ bodies,⁤ knowing‌ its ⁢long-term side effects, isn’t‍ criminal. More appalling is⁢ that this strong pharmaceutical is used in children with a psychiatric condition⁤ that will resolve ​in up to 90 percent of children if​ left unmedicalized.⁣ This is akin⁤ to​ prescribing hysterectomies for “hysteria” in the 20th century.

Lupron is used ⁣differently​ at different⁤ doses in cancer⁤ patients. For ⁣me, Lupron was prescribed for fertility preservation at ⁣3.75 ‍mg monthly. Prostate and breast cancer patients‍ sometimes receive twice the amount I did.

Boston ​Children’s Hospital has a document on using Lupron ⁣as a puberty blocker in their gender facility. The dosage⁣ they prescribe is a 7.5 mg injection monthly,⁤ twice⁣ the amount I received. That ‌is twice the amount used to create temporary menopause and functionally the same amount used to create permanent menopause in women ​with​ estrogen-positive⁣ breast cancer.

As ‌a then-33-year-old, I‍ knew the trade-offs⁣ that come ⁣with surviving cancer. Children, especially those actively experiencing ⁤mental illness, cannot possibly fathom permanence or provide informed consent as I did. As ⁣someone who may have permanently ‍sacrificed motherhood ​for literal survival, I ⁣cannot⁤ fathom how the medical community could ask children or parents to make that decision for anything less.

This ​is​ especially true given‍ the increasing ⁤reports that women who have taken ⁢extended ⁢courses of Lupron and former ⁣ pediatric patients treated for precocious puberty report devastating side effects, ‌not to mention the sterilization that can ⁢occur in⁢ children when the drug is used to block otherwise healthy puberty.

A ‘Life-Saving’ Drug?

In the case⁣ of childhood cancers, consent for treatment often includes understanding the horrendous tradeoff of life⁤ for fertility, ⁤and parents are burdened with the final ⁤decision. However, in the case​ of “gender dysphoria,” ​there⁣ is a conflation ‌between suicidal ideation⁢ by a minor⁤ and a ​deadly acute illness such ⁢as cancer to label pubertal suppression and “gender-affirming care” as “life-saving⁣ care,”‌ that ⁢has ⁢become evident in the European experience.

It is‌ also becoming apparent from the numerous ⁢adolescent detransitioners coming forward via lawsuits and social media that parents can’t make‌ informed⁣ decisions when these changes are inaccurately described as ‌“life-saving.”

Thus, ⁢we ‌must ask ourselves, as⁣ a society, whether children or even their parents can consent​ to drugs⁢ and procedures that create a permanent dependence on medical care ‌absent life-threatening illnesses, such as cancer or diabetes. Moreover, can they ‌consent ⁤during periods of intense‍ emotional​ distress? The side effects I continue to experience from only nine‌ months of Lupron, first administered in an authentic life-and-death situation, are far less severe than those on ⁣children, but they‍ are permanent.

I have a high degree of ⁢faith in science and medicine. Still, it’s becoming ​evident ​that we must⁣ prevent the medical exploitation of children and work to keep the temporary distresses ⁢of adolescence from being permanently ​medicalized‌ and pathologized. The time for live and let live⁤ is over, and states must continue intervening. We⁤ must stop the needless sterilization of children.

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