Cancer survivor Elizabeth Joice was told the chemotherapy that helped her beat sarcoma in 2010 would also leave her infertile, so when she and husband Max got the news that she was in fact pregnant last year, “it very much felt like a miracle,” he tells CNN.
The happy news, however, was short-lived. Just a month into her pregnancy, Joice’s cancer returned, and though surgeons removed tumors from her back, there was no way of knowing how far the cancer had spread without a full-body MRI scan. But the dyes used in the scan could harm the baby, meaning she’d need to end the pregnancy before undergoing the procedure.
Joice opted to continue with her pregnancy but began having trouble breathing in her third trimester; an X-ray revealed tumors in her lungs. Jan. 23 brought both joy and devastation. Joice had a baby girl, Lily, via C-section, but “there were tons of tumor[s],” her doctor tells ABC News. “It had spread all over her abdomen.” Tumors were also found in Joice’s heart and pelvis. She died six weeks later, on March 9. Still, her doctor remembers the first time she saw Joice hold her baby. “The joy on her face was just incredible,” she says. “She said, ‘This is worth it … I would do it all again to have this child.'” (A similarly heart-tugging story: Inside a child’s bittersweet birth, four months after her mom’s death.)