Seeds of Success: The DiMarco Family
Marah and Paul DiMarco watched their son Colby growing quickly when they decided it was the right time to continue building their family. Although Marah was already in her late 30’s, her healthy and relatively easy pregnancy with Colby led the couple to believe there would be few complications.
However, the couple’s attempt at trying for a second child was accompanied by many roadblocks. In addition to experiencing secondary infertility after trying to conceive for a year and a half, 37-year-old Marah noticed some irregularities: “I noticed that my period was very irregular all of a sudden, which was not normal for me.”
One of Marah’s close friends had found success at Reproductive Associates of Delaware (RAD), so the DiMarcos decided to schedule an appointment. During the couple’s initial meeting with Dr. Emelia Bachman, Marah said that she felt at ease immediately. “It was a definite right out of the gate comfort level with Dr. Bachman,” Marah said. By referencing Marah’s OB/GYN lab work, Dr. Bachman originally suspected Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and ordered additional lab work to investigate further. Marah and Paul remained hopeful.
“It was a definite right out of the gate comfort level.”
An Unpleasant Surprise, But A Blessing In Disguise
The additional testing revealed polyps as well as an ovarian cyst. Dr. Bachman scheduled Marah for hysteroscopic and laparoscopic surgery to remove and correct these issues.
Unfortunately, what seemed to be a minor procedure to remove what appeared to be a cyst turned out to be a granulosa cell tumor. The discovery was accompanied by a stage 1 ovarian cancer diagnosis.
“It was a shock that we weren’t expecting,” Marah said.
The couple received the news on their wedding anniversary. “It is cancer,” Marah said after receiving the call with the pathology results. Paul hugged Marah, “We’re going to get through this together.” The couple stayed strong. “We had to embrace it and move forward, and whatever we were told to do, we were going to do it,” Marah said. Ultimately, Paul and Marah’s secondary infertility led to early detection, saving Marah from ovarian cancer.
Facing A Cancer Diagnosis
Following the discovery of the cyst, Dr. Bachman referred the DiMarcos to Dr. Mark Borowsky at The Helen Graham Cancer Center.
He shared that Dr. Bachman and Dr. McGuirk removed the entire mass and there were no other traces of cancer. They could choose surgical staging as a preventative measure by completely removing one of Marah’s ovaries and the corresponding fallopian tube. Since Marah wanted to build her family, she could wait until after treatment to increase her chances with the ovary and fallopian tubes intact. Dr. Borowsky also recommended IVF as a means of getting pregnant.
After an unsuccessful course of Clomid, the DiMarcos decided to try IVF, especially due to Marah’s age. “I definitely felt this ticking clock because I’m older,” Marah said.
“IVF was just such a big decision,” said Marah. Timing was of the essence due to her cycle.
At the time, Paul was on a trip with little cell phone service, and Marah got in touch with her husband on the side of a mountain. Paul told his wife, “if you emotionally and physically feel like you can do it, I will support you.”
Our Little Soldier
With cost of care being one of the biggest factors in the DiMarco’s decision to move forward, Dr. Bachman referred the couple to Ferring’s Heart Beat Program, an organization that helps offset the cost of IVF for patients facing a cancer diagnosis.
While the Heart Beat program was able to alleviate some of the financial aspect of IVF for the DiMarcos, it was important that Marah maintained a positive attitude throughout the emotional part of the journey. “You just keep your eyes on the prize,” Marah said. “The most nerve-wracking part I think is leading up to the retrieval and just not knowing what the outcome is going to be.”
Following a single round of IVF, the DiMarcos had one healthy, viable embryo able to be transferred. The couple discussed their fears with Dr. Bachman, who encouraged them to take their chances with the single embryo.
“Dr. Bachman told me to have faith and know that every little embryo has a fair shot,” Marah said. “We called him our little soldier.”
“Dr. Bachman always has a way of giving you peace of mind and seeing the bigger picture,” Marah said.
So, after following the advice of Dr. Bachman, Marah and Paul waited, hoping for a successful outcome.
“RAD will go out of their way to give you amazing, compassionate care and share their knowledge. Believe in miracles; they really can happen.”
An Incredible Feeling
On April Fool’s Day, Marah received good news, but it wasn’t a joke.
She described the feeling as “incredible,” but she also worried about the pregnancy, having suffered a miscarriage in the past: “You’re just so terrified that it’s just not going to stay, and this is all going to be crushing.”
It wasn’t until she was about 10 weeks into her pregnancy that she began to breathe a bit easier, according to Marah. And she only felt peace of mind when she reached the second trimester without any complications.
The rest of the pregnancy went as planned, and Marah gave birth to Gage Xavier on November 25, 2015.
Marah and Paul live with their sons, Colby and Gage, in Wilmington, Delaware.
DiMarco: Family of Four
“He was our tough cookie from the gate,” Marah said of her second son. “His strength and determination is very apparent to this day.”
“Every time I think about it, I get emotional,” said Marah. “You never think it’s going to be you. I don’t know what could have happened. I want to scream my story; I’ll tell it to anybody.”
Marah and Paul are thankful for everyone at RAD who helped to facilitate their family’s journey.
“I didn’t realize how bad I wanted a second child until I thought potentially we could not have one,” said Marah. RAD “makes you feel like you’re a part of a family, always putting you at ease.”
“RAD will go out of their way to give you amazing, compassionate care and share their knowledge,” said Marah. “Believe in miracles; they really can happen. We are forever grateful for RAD.”
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