Hope & Spirit Honoree: Mike Laemmrich
As Mike Laemmrich puts it, “Once you’ve gone through testicular cancer, the gloves are off. You can’t be shy about your situation at all.” That’s why, 16 years later, after multiple cycles of chemotherapy and major surgery that successfully treated the disease but rendered Mike infertile, he and his wife Deanna sought any option that would help them start a family. They found that option at the Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin’s Reproductive Medicine Clinic. Estil Strawn, MD, director of the program, and Jay Sandlow, MD, a Medical College of Wisconsin urologist who specializes in male reproductive issues, told the couple that advanced medical procedures could make it possible for them to have a child of their own through in vitro fertilization (IVF).
First, Mike went through a surgical procedure to harvest sperm from his remaining testicle. Then, during the span of several months, Mike administered shots to Deanna in preparation for IVF. She was soon pregnant and in December 2004, gave birth to their daughter Katie.
“Through all this, Mike was upbeat and willing to do anything necessary to achieve their goal,” says Dr. Sandlow. “Never once did he complain about the cards life dealt him; instead, he pushed forward at all times. He has been very outspoken about his experience, in part to show others what can be done in situations that may seem hopeless.” In fact, Mike’s positive attitude continues to be an inspiration. Dr. Sandlow says he keeps a letter Mike wrote to him after Katie’s birth and refers to it whenever he needs a lift.
Says Mike about his experience, “Katie is healthy and happy and everything is absolutely perfect.” Now, the couple is considering a second child, but as Mike says, that decision is up to Deanna. “Since my sperm is stored, I don’t have to go through another procedure; Deanna does. But yes, we’re definitely thinking about doing it again.”