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Kara DioGuardi Shares How Protecting Her Health Altered Her Path to Motherhood

Kara DioGuardi and her husband Mike McCuddy with son GreysonAfter spending time as a judge on the hit show “American Idol,” Kara DioGuardi became as common of a household name as the artists she writes songs for. Even though she’s no longer on the show, she’s still helping artists like Pink and Kelly Clarkson top the charts. But this 42-year-old has been taking care of more than just her career; she’s also been taking care of her health…in way that some might consider extreme.

“I had a 70 to 80 percent chance of breast cancer, and a 20 to 40 percent chance of ovarian [cancer] in my lifetime,” Kara revealed in a new interview with Access Hollywood.

Kara’s mother, Carol, died of ovarian cancer back in 1997. After hearing a news report about the BRCA Gene – a genetic mutation linked to an increased risk of hereditary breast or ovarian cancer – Kara decided to take a blood test in December of 2011 to check for the gene. After learning that she did, in fact, have the mutation, Kara made a difficult and extreme decision.

“I had a complete hysterectomy in December of last year,” she said. “I arrived at that decision because I knew the statistics. I knew that if I had a prophylactic hysterectomy, that it would diminish my chances of both breast and ovarian cancer. I’m actually going to go in for a prophylactic mastectomy, and once I do that, it diminishes my chances to five percent that I would get breast cancer…The way they do things today – they take out your healthy tissue and they build you a breast. It’s kind of like a good boob job, you know? I’m actually kind of looking forward to going up a size. I’m going to look at it that way.”

But despite the fun-natured comments, Kara says it wasn’t a decision that she reached easily, nor was it a decision that came without strong, upsetting feelings.

“I would say…to my husband [Mike McCuddy], ‘Do you think I’m still a woman?’ He’s like, ‘Honey, of course you’re still a woman.’ And it was nice to talk to him about it and he alleviated my fears,” she said. “I think the hardest thing for me was knowing I would never give birth to my own child.”

Kara and her husband had started trying for a baby back when Kara was 38. But things didn’t go as they’d hoped. Kara suffered from a miscarriage while on “Idol.” She’d started trying to conceive with fertility treatments when she’d discovered that she had the BRCA gene. After trying, and failing, at one more round of IVF, she decided not to wait any longer for the hysterectomy. That decision would ultimately alter Kara’s road to motherhood.

“They tell you that you should have the surgery before you’re 40. I was 41,” Kara said. “So I thought, you know, I’m not going to mess around anymore. I’m going to ask this woman I know who would be an incredible surrogate and I’ll go through the IVF and I’ll transfer the embryos to her…[My surrogate] got pregnant on the first try.”

So now, at the age of 42, Kara is enjoying motherhood.

“Grayson is 3 months and he looks like he’s 6 months,” she said. “He’s got a huge gut! Everyone says, ‘What do you feed this child?’ I’m like, ‘I don’t know what to tell you. He likes to eat.’”

Best of all, Kara is able to be a mother with a little less worry about leaving her son and husband behind; a pain that she understands all too well.

“I can feel my mom. I can feel her,” Kara said. “I think she would love my husband and I know she’d be all over my little son. And my son is named Grayson James Carol McCuddy, after my mother.”

Image VIA People.com

About the author


Kate Givans is a wife and a mother of five—four sons (one with autism) and a daughter. She’s an advocate for breastfeeding, women’s rights, against domestic violence, and equality for all. When not writing—be it creating her next romance novel or here on Growing Your Baby—Kate can be found discussing humanitarian issues, animal rights, eco-awareness, food, parenting, and her favorite books and shows on Twitter or Facebook. Laundry is the bane of her existence, but armed with a cup of coffee, she sometimes she gets it done.

1 Comment

  • My twin sister, she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in June 2009 (the same month we lost our Dad), they found it early and she opted to have a double mastectomy on October 21, 2009.

    It was suggested that a Gene Profiling be done and the results came back, BRCA1 positive. Her doctor suggested that my brother, sister and I be tested for the BRCA gene as well. Since my Mom had breast cancer and her Mom had ovarian cancer. My Mom was diagnosed at 42 with breast cancer back in 1982, and she died December, 1992, 10 years later at the age of 52. Her mother had Ovarian Cancer many years ago prior; but because she was adopted we don’t know our Family History after that. My twin was 42 when she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer.

    She went in for the “preventative hysterectomy”, that was the thing it was “preventative” but, they found more cancer this time in her fallopian tubes, spots on her bladder, cervix and they did a pelvic wash which also found more cancer cells. Unfortunately this means another round of chemotherapy. In a way, I’m glad she didn’t put this off much longer.

    The day of my sister’s surgery, while I was waiting in the waiting room, I received a phone call from the Oncologist office regarding my results from the BRCA1 profiling and as I suspected, I as well have the BRCA1 gene, how could I NOT have it, is my twin, we are NOT identical twins but, fraternal twins but damn we sure have the same genes makeup I would assume!! I needed to go and talk with her oncologist as to my options due to the BRCA1 mutation.

    My hysterectomy was December 2010 and mastectomy was March 2011. I opted to have both these surgeries due to my twin sister having both Breast and Ovarian Cancer, without these surgeries I was told that my chances of getting one or both was about 70%. My decision was somewhat an easy one. I chatted with my sisters in the parking lot of the after speaking with the Surgeon and as my twin put it to me, “I don’t want you to have to go through what I have been going through over the past year and half, saying to myself, will this be my last Christmas, last Thanksgiving, my last birthday…you don’t want to have to think like that, you have 2 kids to think about, you always wanted a breast reduction, well here is your chance. You don’t plan on having any more kids, so why keep these things if one day they are going to give you medical issues, why?” so right then and there, I opted to have them both.

    My Doctor said to me during one of my appointment “you did really well, I admire you for what you did”, “Women need to know what you and your twin have gone thru, show these women from both points of view, the cancer side and the preventative side.”

    We were tested , out of the 4 kids, only her and I carry the BRCA1 mutation.

    Then Ovarian struck again, she was out of work for carpal tunnel surgery, early in 2012 for both her hands. She felt like she broke a rib or something, it bothered her to the point where she went for an X-Ray, nothing showed, so her Oncologist suggested a PET scan and there it was more cancer, which meant more chemotherapy! But like a trooper, she went through another round of treatment.

    My sister, has been an inspiration to me, our family and friends for the fight that she has fought for the past 4 years with Breast & Ovarian Cancer, 4 rounds of chemo everything that goes along with this diesase and its treatments. Unnfortuntely she is now going through chemo once again and , she is now involved in a trial at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA .

    As she and I both carry a Breast Cancer Mutation (BRCA1 Gene), I took the preventative steps toward NOT getting one or both cancers but watch as my twin fights for her life and with such a positive attitute. I applaud Kara for her decision…and hope that more women will take the preventive steps toward saving theirselves!! The technology out there today is a amazing and could save your life.

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