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One mother's ultimate sacrifice
After Elizabeth Joice was told she would never have children because chemotherapy had left her infertile, she miraculously became pregnant.
But just one month into the pregnancy her cancer returned and she was given a choice - terminate her pregnancy to have a possibly life-saving scan, or continue the pregnancy without knowing where the cancer might have spread.
For Elizabeth, the choice was clear: she would have the child.
"The amount of elation that we felt when we found out that we were pregnant --- I mean I'm not one for talking miracles but it very much felt like a miracle bringing a child into this world," Elizabeth's husband Max recalled. "I mean it wasn't just important for me, it was one of the most important things for Liz."
But just weeks after her daughter was born, Elizabeth passed away, succumbing from the cancer which had spread throughout her body.
"We felt that if we terminated this pregnancy and did these scans, if it turned out that there was no evidence of this disease after the scans, then we would have possibly given up our only chance at having a child naturally and would have done it for nothing," Max said.
But it became clear that the cancer was spreading in Elizabeth's third trimester. She began having trouble breathing due to tumors in her lungs.
To begin Elizabeth's treatment doctors performed a C-section two months early and the Joices had Lily Ann, their miracle baby. "It was incredibly difficult to...enjoy this amazing moment as much as you possibly can, yet to know that you're facing something so incredibly dire, and the chances didn't look good at that point," Max said.
After Lily was born, doctors found cancer in Liz's pelvis, abdomen and heart. She died six weeks later, on March 9, just a few weeks before her 37th birthday. "Her spirit, her optimism, her strength, it radiated out of her and it had such an incredible impact on people who met her," Max said. "Her optimism and her courage and her bravery gave people hope and that's what she did for everybody."
A YouCaring.com online fundraiser has been set-up to help raise money for Elizabeth's family. Those who would like to honor her are asked to donate.