What does it feel like to be the mother of a superhero? It’s a question that Melissa Gormley, 31, might be a bit more qualified to answer. When she found out she was pregnant with her baby she was ecstatic, but little did she know that her pregnancy was about to force her to make the most difficult decision of her life: terminate the pregnancy and fight to save her own life, or risk it all for her 14-week old, unborn daughter.
Over a year ago, Gormley met her boyfriend Dave Good while training for their jobs at World of Beer in Exton, Pennsylvania. The two hit it off immediately and after a 6-hour first date they knew they would be together forever.
Melissa Gormley and David Good’s elation turned to sorrow and anxiety in the span of a single day.
But then they received a bit of unexpected, but good news a little after New Year’s: they were going to have a baby.
“We were both kind of like, ‘what?!’” Gormley said according to Daily Local News.
Time went on, but at 14-weeks they found out that they were going to have a baby girl.
Unfortunately, this good news came with a tragic caveat: the very same day they found out the gender of their child, Gormley returned home from the doctor’s office and experienced some light bleeding.
Their elation was transformed into concern, and the two made another trip to the hospital.
“We were finally starting to be like, ‘this is awesome, we’re going to be able to start our life together’ and then we get this news and we wondered, what does that mean for our new life?” Good said according to Daily Local News. “Did it mean it couldn’t happen anymore? Can we still have the baby? Is Melissa going to be OK? That was hard for me because it put a halt on everything.”
Life had decided to throw a wrench into their plans, and Gormley was diagnosed with stage one cervical cancer.
Her diagnosis left her with a life-or-death choice to make: terminate her pregnancy, or forgo aggressive treatments.
Being diagnosed with cancer is never timely, but in Gormley’s case it was doubly problematic. Doctors believe that because she was pregnant, the symptoms of her cancer showed and they were able to detect it. However, most treatments would put the baby in danger.
For instance, had Gormley discovered the cancer later in her pregnancy, they might have been able to postpone some of the more aggressive treatments until after the baby was born. If it was earlier in the pregnancy, termination might have been a viable option.
Instead, they had found out 2-months into the pregnancy, and for Gormley that was too late.
“Ending the pregnancy was not an option for me,” Gormley said according to Daily Local News. “I knew that right from the beginning. Even if they were like ‘we can’t do anything for you,’ I would’ve waited. I was really just concerned for her.”
Gormley decided to undergo light chemotherapy treatments, and planned for the worst. If the tumor reduced in size she would attempt to give birth naturally. If not, they would have to undergo an emergency c-section to remove the baby, and then another surgery to remove the tumor.
The fight was hard on the couple—but the couple took strength from their unborn baby.
“There are definitely times where I break down crying,” Gormley said. “It’s scary thinking about all the what ifs. Like, what if it doesn’t work? What if something happens during delivery? All of those thoughts go through your head. She’s moving a lot now, so every time we have that I just think, we’re doing all this so she’s healthy, so I’m healthy, so I can be there for her. That kind of helps me get through it.”
Though it looked grim, the couple were able to derive strength from their little girl; every time they felt sad, they would listen to her heartbeat. But of course, as well as giving her parent’s emotional support, her very existence saved Gormley’s life.
“Dave kept saying I don’t ever want to call her princess, I want to call her our superhero, but now she really is our superhero,” Gormley said according to Daily Local News. “If it wasn’t for her, who knows what would have happened to me.”
Thanks to their unborn daughter the couple pulled through, both emotionally and physically.
After only 33 weeks, Olivia Madeline Good was born through c-section on July 24, 2017.
But Gormley was not out of the woods yet and was immediately rushed into surgery to remove the tumor.
“Still waiting to meet mommy,” Good wrote of his newborn daughter on Facebook. “She’s such a strong girl!”
“She came out crying for her mommy, but had to settle for meeting daddy a few minutes later,” he wrote.
Two days later, mother and daughter were able to meet face to face.
Gormley will likely not be able to have children again, but the surgery was a success, and she was able to hold her daughter after two days of recuperation.
Olivia might not be Superman, but not only did save her mother’s life, she gave her hope to carry on fighting when things got tough. That might not compel Hollywood to make movies about her, but she sure is a superhero in our eyes.