The Short of It
In early November, Cara Walters Combs was 23-weeks pregnant when, according to her sister-in-law Michelle Combs Gerdin, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 Melanoma. "The cancer had spread through her body, and to this day we are not sure the extent as she was scheduled to have more tests still," Gerdin wrote on Facebook.
In mid-November, the mom-of-three posted this update on her Facebook page:
"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. There is no good decision here. We will both be fighting for our lives and I feel incredibly guiltily about that. I saw a dermatologist last year and she didn't find anything concerning. Even my oncologist can't find the source. At 38 you don't expect to find out that you are dying.[sic]"
Gerdin further explains: "Cara decided to delay treating the cancer for 5 weeks because she was determined to give her baby the best start to life that she could." Waiting until 28 weeks to deliver would increase the baby's chances for survival to 90 percent. Gerdin adds, "She had done extensive research and had a team of doctors so she knew how serious her cancer was and that it was most likely going to take her life. Nobody knew how much time she had left here on earth."
Cara went into labor on Dec. 5 and delivered her daughter Shay via emergency C-section. The baby was born weighing just 2.1 pounds, but incredibly, she was breathing on her own. Gerdin writes, "Cara, on the other hand, was not doing as well. Between the cancer and complications from the pregnancy and surgery, it was too much for her body. She went into the ICU and would never come out."
Sadly, just a few days after giving life, hers was taken. Now, despite some media reports, Cara's grieving family emphasizes that at no time was Cara planning not to treat her cancer.
On Facebook, Emily Lucarz, the photographer who captured beautiful images of Cara and her family days before her death, clarifies, "Cara had EVERY intention of fighting this cancer once she was released from the hospital post birth. She had NO idea she would have such complications unrelated to her cancer that would keep her in the ICU. Cara ended up needing a liver transplant, but because of her cancer was not a candidate. Her 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."
Learn more about how you can help the Combs family on their Go Fund Me page, where Cara's husband lovingly shared: "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."