Missouri Mother With Cancer Who Chose Baby Over Treatment Dies After Giving Birth

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A Missouri mother of three who was diagnosed with stage IV melanoma while pregnant and decided to go against her doctor's advice to have the baby died several days after giving birth.

According to KTLA sister station KTVI, Cara Combs found out she had cancer while she was 23 weeks pregnant.

Her doctors advised her to have the baby immediately, but Combs, 38, wanted to wait to give the child a chance to survive. The decision meant postponing cancer treatment.

"I can't begin treatment while pregnant so I have some tough decisions to make. 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," she wrote in a Facebook status update from Nov. 13. "There is no good decision here. We will both be fighting for our lives and I feel incredibly guiltily about that."

Combs explained her dermatologist hadn't found anything concerning when she saw her last year. Her oncologist couldn't find the source of the cancer, she wrote.

"At 38 you don't expect to find out that you are dying. It definitely puts things into perspective," she wrote in the post.

Combs went into labor on Dec. 5, the day after family photographs were taken, according to Emily Lucarz, who shot the pictures.

Shaylin "Shay" Combs weighed just over 2 pounds when she was born, but was "doing amazing," Lucarz wrote in a Facebook post.

On Dec. 8, three days after giving birth, Combs passed away.

She had been scheduled to start a clinical trial in Texas days later, KTVI reported. But by then, the cancer had spread to her liver, and complications made it impossible for her to recover.

She got to meet her new baby before she died, according to relatives.

"The NICU brought Shaylin to her and she got to hold the baby. We got pictures of her holding the baby, things like that," Andrea Dean told the St. Louis-area television station.

Roy Combs announced his wife had died in a post on the family's GoFundMe page.

"I wanted to let everyone know that we lost Cara Walters Combs this morning," he wrote. "I don't have to tell you how great of a person she was. She will be missed by all."

The post continued, "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."

The fundraising page was initially set up so the family could provide "as much normalcy" to the three children during what has been an extremely difficult period for them.

"It's heartbreaking for me, because Cara put her baby before her own life" Lucarz told the station. "It was amazing."