Kara DioGuardi (Getty Images)
The hit songwriter and former "American Idol" judge, 42, revealed that while trying to start a family with her husband, Mike McCuddy, she underwent genetic testing in 2011. It was then that DioGuardi learned she carries the BRCA2 gene that put her at high risk of ovarian cancer. Because her mother died after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer at 50 and her grandmother had breast cancer, she had surgery this past December to remove her uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes.
"It stopped me dead in my tracks and made me prioritize my health," DioGuardi told People about being told she has the gene. "I had to think about it in conjunction with the fact that I was trying to have a baby. I knew I was at an increased risk for cancer, and it’s bringing me back to seeing what my mother went through and how hard that was on me at a young age, and how I don’t want to put my child in the same predicament."
DioGuardi called her decision to have he surgery "a calculated risk" -- and, with it behind her, one she was glad to take.
"I have absolutely no regrets because now I feel empowered in my body," she told the magazine. "I feel like I took back some of the fear, took back control of my life and hopefully enabled my child not to have to go through watching his mother in a chair hooked up to chemotherapy. I think that when it comes to your health, you have to look at it like, 'Not only does this affect me, it affects everyone around me -- my kid, my husband, my friends.' And if there’s a way to possibility reduce it, it’s kind of a no-brainer."
And she will continue to protect her health. Though she hasn’t yet, she may still have a preventive mastectomy.
"I’ll have to be evaluated every six months," she said. "I still have my natural breasts but I would consider having a prophylactic mastectomy [if my doctor recommends it]."
Despite her health woes, it hasn't been all bad news for DioGuardi. After quietly struggling to get pregnant for several years -- undergoing rounds of IVF and even suffering a miscarriage while she was on "Idol" -- she turned to a surrogate to help her fulfill her dreams of becoming a mother. She and her contractor husband, who are now based in Maine, welcomed a healthy baby boy in January.
DioGuardi said that when her son is in her arms, "I always think about the amazing surrogate, how she gave me this precious gift. It’s kind of overwhelming sometimes, that someone would do that for me. And I think how I would go through it all again -- the five years of infertility, the shots, the operations, the whole drama -- just for him. He is perfect."
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- Kara DioGuardi
- ovarian cancer