Kayla Gaytan has had a remarkable year. In January 2016—six days before her 29th birthday and a week after her wedding—the Kentucky resident was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The crushing news came after countless misdiagnoses and a year and a half of doctor’s visits searching for the cause of a persistent itch (one possible symptom of Hodgkin’s lymphoma). Today reports that Gaytan and her husband Charles, a soldier stationed in Fort Campbell, Ken., were already parents to two children when an emergency room visit revealed tumors that took up a third of her chest cavity.
Gaytan then underwent “gruesome” chemotherapy, getting infusions every other week for five months. Finally, in June, she went into remission. And then the real miracle happened. She found out she was pregnant with spontaneous quadruplets — conceived without the help of fertility drugs or other medical intervention.
“There were four healthy heartbeats. It’s truly a miracle,” Gaytan told Today. “I called my husband when I got to the parking lot and he was really surprised and thought he misheard me . . . we were just kind of in shock.”
The pregnancy went smoothly, and the goal was for Gaytan to carry the babies for 34 weeks before delivering them via C-section. But it wasn’t long before she started itching again and noticed her lymph nodes popping up again. A biopsy in November revealed the Hodgkin’s lymphoma had come back. Gaytan needed more chemo, but she had to have the babies first.
“My body was telling me that I needed to start treatment sooner, so we ended up taking the babies out at 30 weeks,” Kayla said. The quadruplets were delivered at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. on Dec. 30.
Charles, Michael, Victoria, and Lillian range in weight from 2 pounds, 8 ounces, up to 3 pounds, 2 ounces. Victoria and Charles have some issues with their lungs and are on ventilators, but they’re all healthy, and improving daily.
Meanwhile, scans revealed tumors in their mom’s chest, armpit, and neck area. She starts chemotherapy on Jan. 18 and will have to have a stem cell transplant, followed by 16 more months of chemotherapy. Doctors say she has a 50% chance of surviving the next five years. Despite all of this, she remains hopeful.
“It would be so easy for me to go sit in a corner and cry all the time and be upset that all this is happening," she told Today. "But I think of my amazing family that I have and the support I have around me and that really helps me get through every day."
"Knowing that I have four new babies here that I’d like to see grow up and see how their personalities play out, that’s a big role in what helps me get through it.”