This story begins with a birthday and a pregnancy. It ends 21 months later with another birthday and — at long last — a baby.
Back in December 2016, Gina Lee Gossett and her husband Dan had a lot to celebrate from their home in Hamilton, Montana. It was Lee Gossett’s 32nd birthday, and the Seattle transplants and avid travelers were still reveling in their recent bucket-list trip to Machu Picchu, Peru. Their favorite soccer team, the Sounders FC, had also just won their first league championship. And Lee Gossett discovered that she was pregnant.
“I was really excited that getting pregnant happened so easily for us,” says Lee Gossett, who made sure to wait three months after returning from Peru to start trying for a baby due to Zika concerns. “I even said how easy it was out loud, and it came back to bite me.”
Early signs and a stunning diagnosis
By late December, their celebration had morphed into concern.
Lee Gossett’s early-pregnancy nausea suddenly disappeared a few weeks after Christmas, and she began to notice unusual discharge in its place. Had she miscarried?
An ultrasound at six weeks alleviated her fears. The baby — what Lee Gossett says looked like a little sea monkey — was still there, heart beating steadily along. The doctor prescribed antibiotics for the discharge, and Lee Gossett thought that was the end of that.
But it wasn’t.
“The day before my 12-week prenatal appointment, I had some light pink discharge, and I was really worried that I had miscarried,” Lee Gossett recalls. “My doctor in Montana decided to take a look again, and that’s when she noticed there was a bump on my cervix that she hadn’t seen in December.”
Her doctor ordered a colposcopy to check her cervix for abnormal cells and sent it off for testing. A few days later, Lee Gossett was asked to come back in.
The bump was cervical cancer.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Lee Gossett says. “I was just numb.”
The search for care begins
Lee Gossett spent the next few hours in a fog, letting Dan and her family reach out to various cancer care centers around the country. They scheduled a consultation with a healthcare organization in Texas, but many others told them that they didn’t accept pregnant women as patients. Finally, Lee Gossett decided to call UW Medicine, too.