In 2011, Suzanne Kane had a bright future to look forward to. She was engaged to a rock drummer named Jimmi, and the two of them were excited to try for the daughter they wanted to complete their family. But after she was diagnosed with an aggressive cervical cancer, that future quickly became uncertain.
Mario Leitao, a gynecologic surgeon and director of robotic surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering, and the pathology team identified her cancer as small cell carcinoma of the cervix, a rare and aggressive subtype of cervical cancer that starts in the neck of the womb. Fewer than 3 in 100 women (3%) diagnosed with cervical cancer will have this type.
Through chemotherapy, radiation, and a radical hysterectomy, Suzanne never lost sight of her most important goal: the child she and Jimmi were determined to have together. When doctors at other hospitals explained that the severity of Suzanne's diagnosis required the removal of her uterus, ovaries, and some of her lymph nodes, throwing her into menopause at age 36, she thought that she'd never be able to have a baby.
Dr. Leitao thought otherwise. He not only saved her life, but gave her the chance to create a new one; He safely delayed her surgery long enough to allow her to have her eggs harvested and frozen for later. After this fertility-sparing procedure was complete, Dr. Leitao performed the robotic radical hysterectomy that would save her life.
After treatment, Suzanne and Jimmi were married just as they planned, and in 2014, a gestational surrogate helped them welcome Aria, the daughter they'd been waiting for.