Amanda Rice has been diagnosed with and fought off cancer three times—all before the age of 40.
While trying to familiarize and prepare herself for her treatment options, Rice discovered something almost as jarring as the cancer diagnosis itself. Not only could life-saving treatment jeopardize her ability to become pregnant in the future, but her health insurance was also unwilling to cover the cost to freeze her eggs.
A Chick With a Mission
During her first diagnosis, Rice, founder and CEO of the non-profit organization Chick Mission, was made aware by the hospital’s social work team of the impact that treatment for breast cancer could have on fertility.
She considers herself lucky since she says “many, many hospitals don't tell patients of childbearing age of their [fertility] options.”
Hormone therapy and chemotherapy, which are common treatments for breast cancer, are both known to impede a woman’s fertility by either causing early menopause or damaging eggs.
In an effort to make motherhood a possibility for herself in the future, Rice decided to freeze her eggs prior to cancer treatment. What she thought would be a simple process ended up changing her life forever.
“My insurance plan included a fertility clause, [but] they still denied my fertility coverage,” says Rice.
“You’re not infertile yet,” she was told by her health insurance company. “You don't meet our definition of infertility.”
While Rice was able to afford her own fertility treatments, she quickly realized many others across the country could not do the same. So she decided to do something about it.
Turning Frustration Into Action
“Chick Mission was born purely out of frustration and the need to fix something that was so wrong in the system,” says Rice.
After winning her own battles with cancer, Rice now dedicates part of her time fighting for financial coverage for reproductive services for cancer patients.
“I’ve been so frustrated through my journey, that starting Chick Mission was the beginning of my healing process,” Rice says.
Chick Mission gives grants to women, fundraises for those grants, and educates about fertility preservation options. With help from a small team of friends and fellow survivors, Rice and Chick Mission have been able to financially support more than 40 women and counting.
However, Rice sees these grants as only a temporary solution to a larger problem. Because of this, Chick Mission also advocates for legislative change so that women with cancer won’t need their services in the future.
“We have watched as nine states have changed their laws so far,” Rice says, “and we are not going to stop until all 50 states have passed this law.”