My husband and I got married in July 2008 when we were both 23. In November 2009, we decided to start trying for a baby. By June 2011, it still hadn’t happened. I couldn’t understand why and felt something was wrong.

I came across the Fertility Centers of Illinois Fertility Awareness screening for couples and made an appointment with Dr. Lederer. My husband’s screening came back perfect, but mine showed I had some sort of mass, which they thought could be endometriosis.

At the time, my husband was in-between jobs, so we decided to wait. When his new job insurance kicked in, I scheduled an appointment with my OB/GYN in February 2012. I explained that we had been trying for over two years and hadn’t had a pregnancy. I also told her about the fertility awareness screening, and shared our results. After undergoing blood work and tests, they found elevated CA 125 levels, the ovarian cancer screening.

I was only 26 and had no family history of ovarian cancer; this wasn’t supposed to happen to me.

A CT scan found a tumor of more than 10 cm on my right ovary, right fallopian tube, and part of my left ovary. She then referred me to a gynecologic oncologist to surgically remove the tumor, right ovary and fallopian tube, and determine whether my left ovary could be saved.

The scariest part was not knowing anything until after waking up from surgery. Would the entire tumor be cancerous? Would I have to do chemo? And the hardest part — would I be able to have a baby?

I remember waking up, and the first thing I asked was if they were able to save my left ovary. Thankfully, I still had part of my left ovary – I had a chance.

I ended up having a Stage II, borderline, non-invasive ovarian cancer tumor, meaning some cells were positive to cancer and some were not. The tumor had spread to other parts of my body. I never had any symptoms, except for infertility. Doctors told me that sooner rather than later I would need to get a complete hysterectomy. They also said my best chances for a baby would be IVF and even then, they were doubtful a pregnancy would happen.

I knew no one doing IVF and it scared me, but I was determined to do whatever it took. Two months after surgery, I walked back into Dr. Lederer’s office to begin in vitro fertilization (IVF).

During the process, we were delayed twice due to estrogen and progesterone levels being off. Per Dr. Lederer’s advice, we froze five embryos and transferred two frozen embryos on November 8th.

Waiting two weeks to find out if I was pregnant was nerve wrecking. After all I’d been through, I’d wanted a baby more than ever. While I felt I was pregnant, I didn’t want to jinx anything, so I told no one but my husband what I was feeling.

Then I received the call that I was pregnant.

The odds of me becoming pregnant the very first cycle in IVF were rare. I felt that this was my rainbow after the storm. God was giving me this baby due to everything I’d just endured.

My pregnancy was pretty good until my 20-week ultrasound, where it was discovered that I had an incompetent cervix and was already starting to dilate. My doctor told me had I not gone to the ultrasound when I did, I would have lost my baby boy within days.

To maintain the pregnancy, my cervix was sewn shut and I had to receive steroid shots, complete bi-weekly ultrasounds to ensure I wasn’t dilating further, and stay on bed rest for the entire third trimester.

On Tuesday, July 16th, 2013, I gave birth to my beautiful, healthy baby boy, Landon Michael. He was 8 lbs. 10 oz. and 22 in. of pure joy and love, especially since some of my doctors ever doubted I’d have him, and he was all mine, after everything that had happened.

Landon truly is my miracle and made everything I’d been through worth it.

I hope my story can help keep faith in some. Without FCI, none of this would be possible. I’m forever grateful and thankful for my miracle baby.

Had I not been trying to have a baby, the tumor would’ve kept growing until it was too late to stop it. In the end, he saved me.

I will be having my complete hysterectomy next year at only 30 years of age. While I’m sad I won’t be able to have another baby, I look at my son and realize how lucky I am.

My advice to all the women going through this is to stay real. Feel your emotions. It’s ok to scream, cry, yell, be angry and not understand why. I still do not understand why, but am very fortunate in having my difficult time finally turn positive.

This patient story is shared in memory of Dr. Kevin J. Lederer who passed away in 2013.

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