UAB Medicine News
First Mother’s Day is a Gift for Cancer Survivor
Taylor and Keith Cargal, with their new baby, Collins
Taylor Cargal’s path to motherhood was paved with challenges. Her first obstacle came on Jan. 21, 2011, in the form of a cancer diagnosis.
“I’ll never forget that day,” says Taylor, 33, who until then had endured weeks of intermittent but excruciating back pain with no explanation, despite multiple physician and emergency room visits. “I was devastated.”
An MRI and a biopsy indicated acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a type of cancer that originates in the bone marrow. Inpatient chemotherapy put the cancer into remission, and then Taylor came to UAB Medicine for a bone marrow transplant, which greatly increased her long-term chances of remaining cancer-free.
Moving On With Life
Taylor married in spring 2012. She and her husband, Keith Cargal, wanted to have a child, but the chemotherapy left her unable to conceive. Her Blood & Marrow Transplantation & Cell Therapy Program physician, Donna Salzman, MD, referred her to UAB Medicine’s Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, directed by G. Wright Bates, MD.
Taylor was still able to carry a child, so Dr. Bates recommended donor egg in vitro fertilization. Her husband’s sperm was used to fertilize multiple eggs from a donor who matched the couple’s preferences for ethnicity, educational background, and other criteria. Donor eggs usually are provided by women in their 20s who are sympathetic toward infertile but otherwise healthy would-be moms.
“The donor egg program is anonymous, but you are able to see a picture of the donor as a little girl,” Taylor says. “The one we chose looked a lot like me when I was little.”
Dr. Bates placed two embryos in Taylor’s uterus in February 2014. Transferring one or two embryos is recommended to maximize the potential for success while reducing the inherent risk of multiple births.
“We wanted to increase our chances of getting pregnant, and we would have been fine with twins,” Taylor says.
On Valentine’s Day, however, Taylor was told that neither embryo had implanted.
“It was awful,” she says. “We knew there was a chance it wouldn’t work, but after it didn’t take the first time I was pretty depressed. I just cried and cried – I thought it was never going to happen for me.”
Dr. Bates repeated the process a month later. “After I received the second pair of eggs, I could definitely feel a little cramping,” Taylor recalls. “I looked online and read where that is a symptom of pregnancy, so I had a good feeling about it.”
Her suspicion was correct; Dr. Bates confirmed the pregnancy about 10 days later to a jubilant, grateful expecting mother.
“My husband and I were both so ecstatic and thanking God for the miracle we were about to have,” Taylor says. “The whole staff shared my excitement. Dr. Bates and the nurses, they all were just great.”
“The donor egg process gives many women the opportunity to fully experience pregnancy and motherhood,” Dr. Bates says. “Few things in my practice are more rewarding.”
Taylor remained under Dr. Bates’ care for the first nine weeks then was released to her regular obstetrician. After a routine pregnancy and a long labor, Collins Cargal was born Dec. 8.
“She smiles and laughs all the time, she is such a happy baby,” says Taylor, who remains cancer-free and is looking forward to celebrating her first Mother’s Day this month. “It was totally worth it.”
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