SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - This year's Susan G. Komen San Diego 3-Day will be a new path along 36-year-old Jennifer Ehren's journey with breast cancer.
"So I was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2011 and it was six weeks before my wedding," Jennifer said. "It was a total shock. Cancer was never on my mind or radar."
Jennifer immediately underwent surgery for a single mastectomy. Then she learned she would have to begin aggressive chemotherapy within eight weeks.
"(The doctor) said 'You know, there are two guarantees I have for you. One, you're gonna lose your hair.' I said okay, fine. 'Two, you could lose your fertility,'" Jennifer said. "On top of everything else, we might not have children. It was devastating."
Jennifer discovered Reproductive Partners UC San Diego Regional Fertility Center in La Jolla, where specialists help young cancer patients preserve their fertility before undergoing treatments.
"Most young cancer patients are treated pretty aggressively in terms of chemo because they want long-term outcomes," Dr. H. Irene Su said. "The cancer treatment potentially destroys some or all of the remaining eggs and so once the cancer treatment starts, it becomes harder to stimulate the ovaries if not impossible."
"So Dr. Su was wonderful and she told us I don't really want to pressure you, but literally if you choose this, the best time to start the fertility drugs is today," Jennifer said.
Reproductive Partners performed embryo egg banking to retrieve and store Jennifer's eggs to preserve her fertility options after chemotherapy.
"From the time that a patient walks into our office and until the time that we retrieve the eggs for egg or embryo banking, it's probably about 15 days, and we can start chemo the next day," Su said.
Although it's a relatively quick process, fertility preservation is expensive, costing thousands of dollars, and in most cases it's not covered by insurance. For Jennifer and her husband, the cost was an investment in hope for their future.
"We're of the mentality that we just wanted as many chances as possible to have children," she said.
But Jennifer's breast cancer journey was far from over.
"I had six rounds of cytotocic chemo. I was so sick, so sick -- three emergency room visits," she said.
While fighting breast cancer, Jennifer discovered Susan G. Komen.
"I've been helped so much through my breast cancer journey, I really felt the need to give back," she said.
Cancer-free and looking forward to starting a family, Jennifer is ready to begin Friday's 3-Day journey.
"It's amazing, we're all united in one goal… in terms of funding breast cancer research," she said.
Follow this amazing 3-Day journey on CBS News 8 and cbs8.com. Matt Baylow and I will be sharing stories, images and Tweets.
Komen San Diego 3-Day – November 15
– November 17