For Heather, building a family after uterine cancer took a village. Kathie Lee and Hoda honor Heather as an “Everyone Has a Story” contest winner.
On July 16, 2015, The Today Show’s Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb featured Shady Grove Fertility patient, Heather Norden, her husband Bill Wertz, and their 6-month-old son, Will, in their monthly contest “Everyone Has a Story.” Each month, Kathie Lee and Hoda select one story from their viewer mail to bring to life and share with the audience. This month’s winner is very special to SGF, especially to Dr. Frank Chang (Rockville, MD), as Heather was Dr. Chang’s patient.
Heather shared about the love story that blossomed between her and Bill over the unexpected journey that would last several years. Soon after she met Bill, she knew he was the love of her life and hopefully someday the father of her children. However, in the letter Heather wrote to Kathie Lee and Hoda, she made it clear that their love story is not just about her husband, but the village that it took to create their son, Will, amidst her devastating uterine cancer diagnosis that should have made having a child impossible.
As the winner of this month’s “Everyone has a story,” Heather and Bill had a song written just for them to honor their love and story. Broadway singer Kelli Rabke performed “Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way,” the original song co-written by Kathie Lee. Below is a video of the performance which took place during the second half of the show.
A few words from Heather
Heather and her gestational carrier, Brandy.
First, I wanted to express my incredible gratitude to all who loved and supported us through this process: friends, family—your help meant the world through the diagnosis of uterine cancer, to the birth of our son and beyond. To the doctors who had the foresight to respect my desire to have a child and to work so hard to make sure I had options and knew what they were.
To Shady Grove Fertility who helped me create our boy through freezing embryos before cancer treatment began.
To Creative Family Connections who helped us find our surrogate, walked us through every step, and made a really hard process as easy as it could possibly be.
Most of all, we wanted to express our gratitude to Brandy, our gestational carrier, and her family. Our love story is really about them. Anyone who is willing to carry a child for others is caring and loving; Brandy went above and beyond just carrying our child. She is our angel.
We also appreciated the enormous love and support from her husband, Marc, and all of the other family members who embraced us, supported us, and shared in our joy through every step of a very difficult and long process.
I wrote a love letter to all of you.
Secondly, I wanted to give hope to others who might be going through nontraditional methods of creating a family. When the way you imagined you would have a family gets taken away from you, it’s devastating. You have to grieve (sometimes I still do). But it’s so important to recognize that you can pick yourself up and find another way to get what you have always dreamed of.
It may take more flexibility, creativity, and help from others (in our case, a lot of others) but where there is a Will there’s a way. You are not alone. Don’t give up.