“I got the call on Thanksgiving Day, which is never a good sign when you hear from your doctor on Thanksgiving Day. ‘Listen, you’re stage three cervical cancer,'” Gray said, recalling what her doctor told her. She was 27 at the time.
The doctor said that an aggressive treatment would have consequences.
“The option we went with, of course, was a radical hysterectomy,” Gray said. “If we had done chemo and radiation it would have affected my fertility anyway.”
The surgery left Gray cancer-free, but unable to carry a child. But the oncologist who saved her life, Dr. Thomas Heffernan of HCA Healthcare, would go on to also help her and her husband Richard create a new one.
“One of my operating room nurses mentioned that she’d had two easy pregnancies and was considering surrogacy,” Heffernan said. “I thought ‘well it’s meant to be,’ and I helped get them connected.”
The connection between Kasia Birdwell and Gray was instant.
“We just hit it off,” Birdwell said. “We sat there for three hours … we were hugging and they’re like ‘we’re gonna call the agency tomorrow.'”
Baby Richard arrived in March to an extended family bonded by love, sacrifice and modern medicine.
“It’s incredible,” Gray said. “I just can’t wait to watch him grow.”
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