Kara DioGuardi Shares Her Brave Battle Through Cancer and Beautiful Journey to Motherhood

Photo Courtesy of People
Photo Courtesy of People

Proud parents Kara DioGuardi and her husband, Mike McCuddy, welcomed a son Greyson James Carroll via a gestational surrogate in early January of this year. The new family-of-three even took off on a cross-country road trip from California (where baby boy Greyson was delivered) to the family’s home in Maine to settle down and enjoy baby’s firsts at home. At the time, Kara was open about her four year struggle with fertility, admitting that after undergoing three separate rounds of IVF treatments, the couple decided to look into surrogacy. On the first try, it worked!

But now, mom is coming forward and sharing how even more of her personal story. Two years ago, Kara learned that she was a carrier for the BRCA2 gene mutation, a mutation that is linked to hereditary ovarian and breast cancer.

In December of last year, Kara underwent surgery to remove her uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes, a move which, according to her doctors, greatly reduces the risk of developing these cancers in the future. Kara says she opted for the surgery because her grandmother had breast cancer and her mother passed away from ovarian cancer.

In an exclusive, heartfelt and brave interview with People, Kara opens up about how her cancer gene changed her path to parenting.

Kara shares that  it was by chance while she was in New York that she heard a journalist talking about people in her own family who had been diagnosed with breast and ovarian cancer. The journalist, Stacey Sager, shared that she had a genetic test done. It was the testing that got Kara listening. After returning to L.A. and undergoing her won genetic testing, Kara realized just how lucky she was to have answers — before it was too late. She says that the finding she had the BRCA2 gene mutation made her “think about my own mortality a lot earlier. It stopped me dead in my tracks and made me prioritize my health. I had to think about it in conjunction with the fact that I was trying to have a baby. I knew I was at an increased risk for cancer and it’s bringing me back to seeing what my mother went through and how hard that was on me at a young age and how I don’t want to put my child in the same predicament if there’s some way I can stop that from happening. It made me approach it like it was something I had to deal with right away so I could figure out what my options were.”

After realizing she was carrying the genetic mutation, Kara said, “I started trying to get pregnant at 38. I did a lot of things: I had surgery for endometriosis. I had polyps removed. When I was on Idol I actually got pregnant, then miscarried. We tried IVF.”  Her doctor told her that the surgery could reduce her chances of getting cancer by a significant amount. At first, Kara wasn’t going to have the surgery right away. She recalls that she and her husband wanted to do one more round of IVF to see if she could get pregnant. When she didn’t, she realized that to go on like this — to keep trying and trying and trying — was only pushing her luck. She admits knowing she had the BRCA2 gene and putting chemicals into her body was only prolonging what would eventually need to happen. She said the choice to have the surgery was a “calculated risk.”

Kara recalls hiring an adoption attorney before ever considering a surrogate. “Then… I knew this woman, a friend and on a whim I asked somebody to bring [gestational surrogacy] up and get her thoughts on it and she seemed open to it. She came over with her husband, talked it through and we negotiated it together,” she said of opening the door to gestational surrogacy. She went on to say, “Over the course of three years, [my husband and I] had done seven embryo transfers. The eighth one was transferred into our surrogate and it took!”

Of her decision to have the surgery and use a surrogate, Kara says she has “absolutely no regrets! I felt it was my obligation to do something about it, kind of to honor my mother in that way. What would a mother want for her daughter?” she said, “To take the test and take it seriously. And live — live the life she couldn’t live.”

Were you touched by Kara’s journey to conception?

Plus, more from The Bump:

Remission and Getting Pregnant?

Ovarian Stimulation for IVF May Increase the Risk for Ovarian Tumors

Cervical Cancer During Pregnancy?