A 37 year-old Michigan woman has died after forfeiting the chance to undergo chemotherapy to treat her brain cancer after discovering that she was pregnant.
The Daily Mail is reporting on the story of Carrie DeKlyen, a courageous mother of six who died surrounded by family at the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor early Saturday morning just three days after giving birth to a little girl appropriately named Life.
Carrie’s husband, Nick, told the Associated Press that among his last words to her were, “I’ll see you in heaven.”
“We stayed by her until she took her last breath,” Nick DeKlyen said. “It’s in God’s hands now.”
The couple has five other children: Elijah, 18; Isaiah, 16; Nevaeh, 11; Leila, four; and Jez, two.
Carrie was diagnosed in April with a form of terminal brain cancer known as glioblastoma multiforme. A particularly aggressive form of cancer, she was planning to undergo chemotherapy when she discovered a few days later that she was pregnant with her sixth child. Not willing to risk any injury to the child, she declined treatment that might have extended her life by shrinking the tumor but could have killed the child.
People suffering with this aggressive form of brain cancer have only a 10 percent chance of surviving five years after a diagnosis.
Instead, Carrie opted to undergo two surgeries, one to try to remove the tumor and the other to drain the liquid from her brain, but neither procedure helped her situation.
At 19 weeks gestation, Carrie suffered a traumatic stroke and was unconscious and on-and-off a ventilator ever since.
Doctors were hoping to wait until the end of September to deliver Life but the baby’s movements began to dwindle and they feared the child would die in the womb. They elected to deliver the baby at 24 weeks. Life Lynn DeKlyen was born weighing just one pound, four ounces.
“She’s going to be fine,” Nick said about his new daughter. “She’s going to be here for four or five months, but we expect her to be a healthy baby. … The doctor just said the timing (of the birth) couldn’t have been more perfect.”
Carrie never saw her sixth child. Unresponsive since July, her condition continued to deteriorate until the family was left with no choice but to discontinue her breathing and feeding tubes.
“My wife loves the Lord and she loves her children more than anything,” Nick said on Friday. “It’s painful, but this is what she wanted. She wanted to protect this child.”
She died on Saturday morning.
In the midst of a world where life is regarded as cheap and expendable and gender roles are increasingly questioned, Carrie DeKlyen decision for life is a stark reminder of the genius of woman and her innate desire to give life.
“All women are meant to bring life,” writes Johnnette Benkovic in Full of Grace: Women and the Abundant Life. “Our entire being is meant to be life-giving, life-producing.”
But this call does not stop at the physical level. We’re all intended to be “mothers,” either physically or spiritually.
“Just as our bodies have been created with the capacity to bear physical life, our souls have been especially created by God to bring spiritual life to the world,” Johnnette writes.
Carrie DeKlyen was an exemplary mother both physically and spiritually. She gave her own life in order to save her baby and, in doing so, taught the world a valuable lesson about what it means to be authentically feminine.
May she rest in peace.
If you’d like to help the DeKlyen family, click here to visit their GoFundMe page.