For new mothers, giving birth to a healthy child is a joyous occasion. But for model, actress and singer Amy Weber, it was nothing short of a miracle. A cervical cancer survivor and DES daughter, Amy had been repeatedly told she would never be able to conceive. But in May 2009, after enduring two failed pregnancies and months of futile fertility treatments, Amy was blessed with a set of twins. Now, the Hollywood starlet serves as a powerful icon of hope and inspiration for DES daughters everywhere.
“Everyday, I look at my kids and I feel so blessed,” Amy says. “It’s a little surreal that I’m where I am now after coming through so much.”
Growing up as a “DES Daughter,” Amy knew that her risk of developing cancer was significantly higher than the average woman. In the womb, Amy was exposed to diethylstilbestrol (DES), a synthetic estrogen drug that was prescribed to pregnant women between 1938 and 1971 to prevent miscarriages. It is now known that the women who were exposed to this drug prior to birth—the so-called “DES Daughters”—face a variety of adverse side effects, chiefly gynecological cancers, reproductive problems and infertility.
But cancer was the last thing on Amy’s mind when she relocated to Hollywood at age 21 to pursue a career in acting and modeling. Discovered shortly after arriving in Tinseltown, she immediately landed numerous print ads and television commercials. Just as she seemed destined for stardom, however, Amy received a devastating diagnosis that halted her fledgling career to come to a screeching halt: Her doctor called and informed her that she had cervical cancer.
“It was life-shattering,” Amy recalls. “It was this giant brick wall that got thrown up in front of me. And to get the news over the phone…I was overwhelmed with every range of emotion. I was angry, scared, upset, confused.”
Putting her dreams on hold, the aspiring actress and model underwent emergency surgery, a procedure that made it nearly impossible for her to become pregnant. “I was told by every doctor out there that my chances of conceiving were slim to none,” Amy says.
The experience of battling cancer at such a young age gave Amy a more nuanced outlook on life. “I’m surrounded by people who put so much emphasis on how they look on the outside,” Amy says. “When I was sick, I really had to make that realization that people are beautiful because they treat people beautifully, not because they have beautiful faces or beautiful bodies.”
When Amy started dating her current husband, entrepreneur and movie producer David Dginger, the prospect of infertility weighed heavily on her mind. “I knew he wanted to be a father more than anything, and I knew I probably couldn’t give that to him,” Amy says. So she opened up to him about her fertility issues. “I told him he should find someone else to marry, but he said, ‘Look, I’m willing to take that chance. We’ll do whatever it takes,’” Amy recalls.
After getting married in 2008, the couple was determined to try for kids. Amy began in vitro fertilization and eventually learned she was pregnant with twins. Amy carried the twins for almost 10 weeks until she miscarried. “It was tragic,” Amy recalls. “To defy the odds and get pregnant and then have it taken away from me—it was just terrible.”
“I thought, ‘It’s me. I’m broken. My body did something wrong,’” she adds.
Rising from her heartbreak and defeat, Amy attempted in vitro a second time. “I had two more frozen eggs and I didn’t want to just abandon them, so I gave it another go,” she says. “I’m not a quitter. I don’t like being told no.”
Against all odds, Amy successfully carried her twins to term, but not without a litany of complications and health scares—at 23 weeks, Amy’s cervix began to rupture open from the inside out and she underwent surgery to resolve the issue. During pregnancy, her daughter, Madison, had to have her heart restarted. “My kids [Levi and Madison] were in the NICU for awhile, but thankfully they don’t have any long-lasting health effects,” Amy says.
After years of struggle and heartbreak, Amy now feels like she is on top of the world. Her music career continues to skyrocket, and she works as the executive producer and host of the TV show “Good Samaritans.” She recently released her latest dance single, “Warrior,” which is dedicated to all the men and women in uniform. “I’m really trying to put out good, positive messages with my music,” Amy says. “When I was sick, music helped me and uplifted me. You’ve got to find that path, that passion, that thing that drives you everyday to want to get up and be better.”
It has been a long and difficult road to where she is now, but Amy says she is ultimately grateful for the experience. “It’s really taught me that nothing in life is guaranteed,” she says. “It’s made me live in the present and take each moment as it comes. I’m so lucky and clearly I think I’m here for a reason.”
But Amy’s proudest accomplishment has nothing to do with fame or money. It’s the little things in life that give her the most joy. “The other day, my daughter looked at me and said, ‘Mommy, you’re a rockstar,’” Amy says. “That meant the world to me.”