At 23 weeks pregnant, Cara Combs was faced with a decision: get treatment for her stage IV cancer, or continue her pregnancy to give her baby a better shot at survival.
It's a choice that no mother ever wants to make, but for one mom, the decision to choose her baby's life over her own was an easy one.
St. Louis mom-of-three Cara Combs was diagnosed with stage IV melanoma when she was 23 weeks pregnant with her fourth child. While her doctor recommended she undergo treatment immediately, she could not do so without ending the pregnancy. Combs decided to delay treatment for several weeks, in order to give the baby a better chance at survival.
Combs took to Facebook to detail her unfortunate situation on November 13. "There is no good decision here," she wrote. "We will both be fighting for our lives and I feel incredibly guilty about that." Combs was 38 years old. She shared on social media that she had seen a dermatologist a year ago, who had noted no signs of cancer.
A second Facebook update by Combs said she planned to deliver the baby on December 7, at 28 weeks, but the little girl came two days early, on December 5. The family's photographer, Emily Lucarz Photography, posted images of the premature—but otherwise healthy!—baby, Shaylin (who they will call Shay). Shay was 2 pounds, 1.2 ounces. After Shay's birth, due to complications unrelated to her cancer, Combs needed a life-saving liver transplant to survive—unfortunately, because of the cancer, she was not a candidate for the transplant. Combs passed away the morning of December 8, but she was able to meet baby Shay before she went.
Combs husband wrote on their GoFundMe page: "She was the strongest person I ever met and the best wife and mother. She sacrificed everything so her legacy could live on. Thank you all for your support and prayers. She was my everything and always will be."
Though such a terrible, sad story, there's one piece of advice we can all take to heart tonight as we tuck our children into bed. Before she passed, Combs wrote on Facebook: "All I can say is enjoy every minute with your kids and don't stress about little things."