Cara Combs, a mother from Missouri, made the ultimate sacrifice for her child. At just 23 weeks pregnant, Combs was told that she had stage 4 melanoma. Knowing the potential risks to her baby of undergoing treatment while pregnant, Cara decided to hold off until she gave birth. Sadly, however, she passed away three days after welcoming her daughter, Shaylin Combs.
According to a November Facebook post, Cara knew the risks of waiting to start treatment and had every intention of starting it as soon as her daughter was born. In fact, she wrote that she would begin her immunotherapy just 48 hours after her delivery.
“Against the advice of my oncologist, I am choosing to delay my treatment for three weeks in order to get the baby to 28 weeks,” Combs wrote. “There is no good decision here. We will both be fighting for our lives and I feel incredibly guiltily about that. The baby will probably be born the first week of December and I will start treatment 48 hours later.”
— People magazine (@people) December 9, 2015
Cara was ready to fight her cancer battle, but cancer and pregnancy combined were just too much for her body to handle. According to Emily Lucarz, a professional photographer who recently shared photos she had taken of the Combs family just days before Shaylin’s birth, Cara had complications while in the hospital that were unrelated to her cancer and left her fighting for her life in the ICU. Combs ended up needing a liver transplant, but because of the melanoma, she was not a candidate. Lucarz emphasized the fact that Cara was planning on fighting cancer, and was not simply giving up, and she had planned on visiting MD Anderson in Texas as soon as her doctors cleared her to travel.
“Her [Cara] giving baby Shaylin a chance at life, was the MOST SELFLESS thing she could have done. She did this but ALSO planned on fighting the cancer,” Lucarz wrote in a Facebook post.
— Trending Cancer News (@cancerolizer) December 10, 2015
Lucarz met with the Combs family to take their pictures on December 4 just one day before Cara went into labor and had to undergo an emergency c-section. The photos show a pregnant Cara with her two daughters, son, and husband, embracing.
“It was so important for me to be able to give her family – not knowing what was going to happen – that gift of her kids having pictures with their mother,” Lucarz told Fox News.
Although Shaylin was born prematurely at only 28 weeks (normal gestation is 40 weeks), she is doing very well. She was born weighing only two pounds, 1.2 ounce, and was already able to breathe without the assistance of a breathing tube, according to Lucarz. A friend of the Combs family set up a GoFundMe page for people to donate to Cara’s husband Roy and their four children. So far, the fundraising page has generated $64,970 of the $100,000 goal, with the money being raised by 989 people in just 25 days.
“We have decided to set up a GoFundMe account so that the family can continue to provide as much normalcy to the kids as possible during this difficult time,” the original post on the site read. “We appreciate everyone’s love and support.”
Roy later shared an update on the GoFundMe page, revealing that his wife had passed way.
“I wanted to let everyone know that we lost Cara Walters Combs this morning. I don’t have to tell you how great of a person she was. She will be missed by all. I always knew she was destined for greater things. We all have a perfect angel looking over us. 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.”
[Image via Shutterstock]