Childrearing

This Mom Made The Hardest Choice A Mom Can Make So Her Daughter Could Live

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Elizabeth JoiceAccording to a gut-wrenching story I read today from The New York Post, 36-year-old NYC mom and cancer patient Elizabeth Joice was faced with a decision no mother should ever have to make – her life or the life of her unborn baby. Getting pregnant was already a miracle, as she and her husband Max had initially been told that earlier treatment had left her sterile. This made the option of terminating the pregnancy to begin treatment even harder to stomach. So the couple made the controversial choice for Elizabeth to put off treatment in order to have their baby girl:

“Having a kid was one of the most important things in the world to her. She said, ‘If we terminate the pregnancy and it turns out I can’t have a baby [later], I’ll be devastated. She knew this might be her only chance.”

Elizabeth’s troubles started in September of 2010 when an MRI proved that what they had assumed was a herniated disc was actually a tumor. According to Max, he proposed the very same day:

“The day the doctors called us with the results is also the day I proposed to her…She said, ‘If it’s terminal, I’m not even going to fight. Let’s travel the world until I keel over. I said, ‘You don’t have the option not to fight’ and proposed to her then. We got married a month later.”

Excuse me while I go fight off these onion-cutting ninjas.

Elizabeth then fought through four rounds of chemo, a painful surgery and then more chemo, and was eventually deemed cancer-free for three years. Though they had been they would never conceive, Elizabeth never gave up hope. So when the couple discovered her pregnancy they were ecstatic. But their happiness was short-lived, because only a month later Elizabeth came out of remission.

Even though she couldn’t even undergo a full body MRI so oncologists could clearly see the tumor, Elizabeth carried the pregnancy as far as she could, with doctors performing a c-section in January of this year, over two months before her due date. Though the couple’s daughter Lily was born healthy, the damage to Elizabeth was done. The cancer had spread and by March 9th Elizabeth had passed away.

If I was put in the same situation, I can’t say that I would have made the same choice. What Elizabeth did took guts, and while I’m sure there will be detractors who will call her choice foolhardy or even selfish, I think she gave the ultimate sacrifice so that her child could have a life. Even if that means a life without her mom.

Director Christopher Henze is currently finishing up a documentary about the family titled “40 Weeks,” which chronicles Elizabeth’s journey to motherhood as well as her passing.

(Photo: Facebook)