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DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) - Women diagnosed with cancer are increasingly choosing the life of their unborn children over their own.
Carrie DeKlyen, a mother of five children battling an aggressive form of brain cancer while pregnant with her sixth, needs prayers to save the life of her child. Church Militant reported on DeKlyen in mid-August, when she was semi-conscious after recovering from a surgery. The goal of doctors and family was to keep her alive for another eight weeks so her baby girl would be viable at 28 weeks gestation.
Doctors at the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor wanted to enroll DeKlyen in a clinical trial that would prolong her life but stated she must abort her baby first. DeKlyen learned of the pregnancy only after she was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, a fast-growing tumor that is usually fatal within 15 months. She refused to abort her baby and any treatment that would harm her baby.
The August 19 update on their GoFundMe page noted that her latest MRI results showed the tumor, growing rapidly and into an area that could affect the baby. As of September 2, DeKlyen has stopped responding to all stimuli, including pain. While the baby is at 24 weeks gestation, she is reported as small but "holding her own." A post on the Cure4Carrie Facebook page says her ultrasound measurements put her in the 3 percent range for size. Without changes to her growth and size, doctors will question whether the baby is viable. The family is asking for prayers for a good outcome on Wednesday.
DeKleyn's story is very much like that of St. Gianna Beretta Molla. St. Gianna was an Italian pediatrician born on October 4, 1922. The tenth of thirteen children, she was raised Catholic and viewed life as a beautiful gift from God. Due to chronic health issues that kept her from missionary work, St. Gianna chose the vocation of marriage and had three children. In 1961, while pregnant with her fourth child, she was struck with severe pain and was diagnosed with a fibroma in her uterus.
Saint Gianna was also given the choice to abort her baby, but she always asserted that the life of the baby must be chosen over hers. The tumor was removed and the baby was spared. St. Gianna experienced complications throughout the pregnancy and realized that she could die during the delivery. She instead prayed that the Lord take away any pain from the baby. She also continued to advocate for the life of her unborn baby, saying, "If you must decide between me and the child ... I insist on it. Save the baby."
On April 21, 1962, St. Gianna gave birth to her daughter Gianna Emanuela Molla by Caesarean section, dying one week later due to septic peritonitis. She was canonized on May 16, 2004, by Pope St. John Paul II.
Other stories are not so dire. After a routine ultrasound at seven weeks, Aleks Patete was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Doctors told Patete and her husband Dominic, that she would have the best prognosis if she would abort her baby and have aggressive chemotherapy.
Patete refused, saying, "He saved my life. Now, it was my turn to save his life." As they discussed chemotherapy treatments with doctors, they settled on a treatment that would have only a small chance of harming the baby.
Patete was put on six rounds of chemotherapy treatments every four weeks. After the first ultrasound showed her baby as healthy, she continued treatment but was always worried about the outcome for her child. She finished her chemotherapy three weeks before her son D.J. was born. He is always smiling and "just a joy." Ovarian cancer is relatively rare, affecting approximately 200,000 people worldwide every year. It is often fatal as it is very difficult to detect in its early stages and is not found until it has spread to other organs. Patete says, "It's a miracle. The cancer could have progressed a lot further, and we would have had no idea if it wasn't for my pregnancy."
Patete says she thought about all the things that could have gone wrong but says "there's no other reason than the grace of God that everything worked out, and we are both alive."