One of the most important things to remember when you are starting off a conversation regarding fertility preservation for parents and pre-pubertal children is how overwhelmed they might be. A cancer diagnosis in itself is already information overload. When discussing fertility preservation, I think it is super important to ask the family what they know already so that you can have a baseline of their understanding. It is also super important to remember how challenging and awkward it might be for the pre-pubertal child to have their family present for the conversation. As healthcare providers, we need to advocate for our patients and families in this area because a lot of the times, they are so overwhelmed by other information, they might now be thinking of family planning or the importance of it at this age, but later down the line they will.
Strategies that would be beneficial when these conversations are being held are:
Offer to speak with the parents first prior to including the child into the conversation. Some parents might feel more comfortable knowing the information that will be discussed before their child hears it. Their child may not know very much about this topic, so it is important for the parents to be informed.
Providing written material and information is also a great option. As patients and families are on information overload, the conversation might go in one ear and out the other. Providing them with materials to revisit is a great opportunity to make sure they know their options.
Asking open ended questions is also beneficial to make sure that the patient and family are able to have all of their questions answered as well as the healthcare professional to have an idea of what their understanding is and what areas they still might need some guidance and education about.