Mother Refuses Cancer Treatment So Unborn Baby May Live

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by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  •  August 11, 2017   

Sonya Nelson: "We are a family of faith"

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. ( - A wife and mother of five is choosing to forgo cancer treatment so that her sixth child, yet to be born, may live.

Carrie DeKlyen is battling brain cancer at the University of Michigan Hospital (U of M) in Ann Arbor. Doctors believe a clinical trial treatment could prolong her life but require that her baby be aborted before she'd be allowed to enroll in the trial program. She has declined for the sake of her unborn child.

On Wednesday, Sonya Nelson, DeKleyn's sister-in-law, explained, "This trial, they said, would have prolonged her life, medically speaking, even longer. But they choose to continue with the pregnancy. So this is where we are at today."

In April, DeKlyen, a resident of Michigan, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer called glioblastoma multiforme. Surgeons removed the tumor twice but it returned both times. Shortly after learning of the cancer, she and her husband Nick also learned DeKlyen was pregnant with a baby girl.

The unborn baby girl is healthy but needs time to grow before she can be delivered. The cancer is fast acting, however, and without treatment DeKleyn is given less than 15 months to live. Even so, abortion was never an option for the DeKleyn family. "We are a family of faith," said Nelson. "And so we are just believing that God's plan for Carrie is to be healed. And if He chooses to heal her here or in Heaven, we will still trust in Him."

If He chooses to heal her here or in Heaven, we will still trust in Him."

As of Wednesday, Deklyen was in a semi-conscious state at U of M, owing to swelling of the brain resulting from the latest surgery. Her goal is to remain alive for at least another eight weeks so her baby girl can be delivered. The daughter will then be at 28 weeks gestation and considered viable outside the womb.

Her Christian family hopes that when that time comes, DeKlyen will be alert and able to witness her child coming into the world. "We want her to wake up," said Nelson. "We would love for her to be able to see this gift that she gave. She gave this child the gift of life."

Nelson, who is helping out with the other children, says they're just a "normal family." Speaking on Wednesday to reporters while cradling DeKlyen's two-year-old son in her lap, she said, "We're living our lives, you know, children, working. And you feel like your world just crumbles before your eyes."

The DeKlyen's five children range in age from 2–18 years old. Because her husband is constantly at his sick wife's bedside the family is hurting financially. A gofundme page has been set up to assist the family monetarily. "We have an amazing family. I don't know how families that do not have the support that we have get through a trial like this," said Nelson.

The DeKlyen story is similar to the life of St. Gianna Beretta, who in 1962 chose to bring her child into this world at the expense of her own. As St. Gianna stated, "If you must decide between me and the child, do not hesitate. Choose the child? I insist on it. Save the baby."


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