Motherhood was a dream that 34-year-old Erica Gray nearly lost 7 years ago.
At just 27 years old, Erica was given some devastating news by her doctor. She had stage three cancer-the most aggressive type- and needed to begin treatment straight away if she wanted to stand a chance of beating the illness.
“I got the call on Thanksgiving day, which is never a good sign when you hear from your doctor on Thanksgiving day,” Erica recalled of the moment when she was give the devastating diagnosis.
The doctor told her she had stage 3 cervical cancer.
Erica was immediately faced with a list of treatment options. She could choose chemotherapy and radiation, or the alternative was to undergo a radical hysterectomy.
Heart-breakingly, both options would leave Erica infertile. But when it came down to it, she had the fight to live, so she went ahead and made a decision.
“The option we went with was a radical hysterectomy,” Erica told CBS Evening News. “If we had done chemo and radiation it would have affected my fertility anyway.”
A radical hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus, and can sometimes involve the removal of the cervix, ovaries, fallopian tubes, and any other affected areas.
It’s a huge, life-changing operation- but since she was dealing with stage three cancer at such a young age, Erica had little other choice but to bravely go through with it.
Thankfully, the surgery was a success and Erica was pronounced cancer-free. It was bound to be a bittersweet moment, as the news came with the reality of her new life without her womb.
She was no longer able to carry a pregnancy or give birth.
But Erica’s dreams of being a mother were still as strong as ever, and as she discussed her options with the oncologist who saved her life, he quickly had an idea for how he could help.
“One of my operating nurses mentioned that she’d had two easy pregnancies and was considering surrogacy, Dr Thomas Heffernan of HCA Healthcare said. “I thought ‘it’s meant to be’ and I helped get them connected.”
Surrogacy is an arrangement that involves a woman carrying a baby for another woman who is unable to do so.
A surrogate can either be traditional (where she is the biological mother of the baby) or gestational (where the surrogate carries another woman’s fertilized egg in her womb).
Kasia Birdwell was the nurse who had expressed her interest in being a surrogate mother, and she reached out to Erica immediately.
Choosing the right person to carry your unborn child is a huge decision to make- but thankfully, Kasia and Erica formed an instant bond.
“We just hit it off. We sat there for 3 hours,” Kasia recalled. “We were hugging, and they were like, ‘we’re going to call the agency tomorrow.'”
Kasia’s pregnancy went smoothly, and in March this year, baby Richard arrived into an extended family bonded by love, sacrifice, and modern medicine.
It wouldn’t have been possible without the help from Kasia and Dr Thomas, as well as Erica’s amazing fighting spirit.
This remarkable story is a reminder that every day we should count our blessings! Take a look at Kasia and Erica’s interview below.
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Source: CBS Evening News