Local nurse carries baby for former classmate and cancer survivor

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Part of what makes life worth living is that you never really know what’s ahead. Good or bad, the unknown keeps you engaged, but that doesn’t make life’s surprises any less terrifying.

“I went to see my eye doctor for some visual changes, and he found increased intracranial pressure in my head and papilledema, my optic were bleeding, so he knew that was not good,” said Katy Sanchez, a cancer survivor. “He sent me to have a CAT scan at Sparrow Hospital and so I had the scan and I had a brain tumor.”

Just 10 weeks after getting married, Sanchez was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a very aggressive form of brain cancer, and her life was put on hold.

“Denial, for a little while or just sort of like not an out of body experience, but like is this really happening?” Sanchez said.

Sanchez had the brain tumor removed four days after they found it and she ended up getting into a clinical trial at the Cleveland Clinic. The good news is it’s working. She’s now been cancer free for three years, but it came with some devastating side effects.

“We probably got about two years into the clinical trial that I’m in at the Cleveland Clinic before we worked up the nerve to ask my oncologist about the possibility of me getting pregnant,” Sanchez said. “And it was just a flat no.”

That’s when the couple started doing research on surrogate pregnancies. They posted their story on Facebook in search of someone to help them build their family.

“I had this undeniable feeling,” said Christy Acevedo, a nurse at McLaren Greater Lansing. “I saw it. I saw Katy, I saw her husband, who I didn’t even know at the time, I saw their baby, I just saw it.”

Acevedo is a mother of two and went to Perry High School with Sanchez and when she saw her post, she knew she had to help.

“I reached out that night,” Acevedo said. “I didn’t say “hey let’s do this,” that night but we started the conversation. Yeah, it was fast.”

The families had to iron out some complicated details that go along with surrogacy, but eventually, it was transfer day, when the embryo was implanted in Acevedo.

“I don’t know if there’s another situation where someone else will do something so intimate for you,” Sanchez said. “Like a part of me went inside of her, I watched it on a big screen, I watched an embryo that me and my husband created get implanted. It’s wild.”

Complicating matters even more, this was all happening right as COVID-19 was coming to Michigan, and Acevedo works at a hospital. But like her mother, baby Sanchez is a fighter. 

She was born on Oct. 1 weighing eight lbs. and five ounces, with “Christina” chosen as one of her middle names.

“It was incredible,” Acevedo said. “I know a lot of people say that in 2020, they don’t have good memories. They say it’s the worst year and I have empathy for that, I do. But we also we created a life. We brought a little baby into the world, I got to make a mom and a dad and just like it’s so overwhelming that I still could like cry about it.”

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