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Mother sacrifices self to save unborn baby girl

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NEW YORK — A New York mother gave the ultimate sacrifice, choosing to forego cancer treatment in order to give her unborn baby life.

In 2010 Elizabeth Joice was diagnosed with cancer. After surgery and four rounds of chemotherapy, she was declared cancer-free. Doctors told her it would be nearly impossible to conceive.

And yet she did.

In the summer of 2013, she and her husband, Max, announced they were pregnant. One month later, they learned the cancer had returned.

Doctors gave them three choices. They could abort the baby and begin treatment immediately. They could start treatment and continue with the pregnancy, which would have been harmful to their baby. Or they could delay treatment and continue on with the pregnancy.

Joice chose the latter.

“Having a kid was one of the most important things in the world to her,” Max said in an interview with The New York Post. “She said, ‘If we terminate the pregnancy and it turns out I can’t have a baby [later], I’ll be devastated.’ She knew this might be her only chance.”

Joice was due in March, but doctors delivered baby Lily by Cesarian section in January so Joice could begin treatment as soon as possible. But it was too late. The cancer had taken its toll and Joice’s health declined, but not before she had the opportunity to bond with the baby girl she fought so hard to save.

The family posted a montage of photos of their first and last moments that Joice and Lily shared together.

Joice died March 9 with her husband by her side.

An online fundraiser is seeking to raise $50,000 to support Max and Lily. It has already received over $27,000 in donations.

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7 comments

  • Phillip Casner

    It is amazing what instincts drive a mother. My own mother was told to never have children that it would kill her, maybe not immediately, but it would destroy her health and damage her beyond any hope. Ignoring all of the warnings, my mother delivered me in 1966. I went 10 months which made the cost that much worse. The only thing that mattered to her was giving me life, and as the end of hers approached 38 years later, it was my turn to care for her. She died just before her 67th birthday. Every organ system in her body shut down one by one over a ten year period, as they told her it would. On the night I terminated life support (she had been in asphyxia for 3 days, there was considerable brain damage from this and following her wishes not to be kept alive by machines, I signed the papers that effectively ended the life of the one who had given life to me), she had been in and out of lucidity and after returning from the consult with her neurologist, cardiologist, and primary physicain where we signed the papers, I leaned over and kissed her on the forehead and apologized for what was happening. She never opened her eyes, and with every bit of strength she had left with tears running down her face her last words ever spoken were “my son, I love you so very very much”. She went into coma right after saying that and it took four days for her to achieve peace. I ask myself every day, why did she do this? Why did she sacrifice everything just to have me? Why Why Why? You know, I still can’t come up with an answer 7 years later. My heart goes out to the family she lives behind and a wonderful child that will never know their mother, except through her father, grandparents other relatives and family friends. It is a very touching story, and I cannot even begin to imagine what her husband is going through right now swinging between the joy of his newborn child and the irreplaceable loss of he life partner. Having a son who is now 25 years old, I think I know how both this young woman and my mother felt. My own life is nothing without my boy. I would gladly give up my own life to keep him safe and healthy no matter the cost to me. Hugs to everyone in the family and may God keep your beautiful baby safe and healthy.

  • Zoe Bysfield

    This is terrible!! What’s the point of having a child if you can’t be alive to raise it?! Don’t you think that child will suffer from an enormous amount of guilt when she learns why her mother died? I have stage 4 breast cancer & had a very similar situation. I was pregnant when I was first diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer, but was told that it was NOT hormone receptive. So, I chose to have one more child. Unfortunately, the doctor gave me false information & it was hormone receptive. Nine months after I delivered my last child my cancer came back as a bone metastasis. I have fought very hard to survive so that I can be here to raise my kids. One thing that I had to be willing to consider with my last pregnancy was the possibility of a medical termination if my cancer came back before vitality (25 weeks). Granted, I already had children that I needed to be here for. But, with all of the technological advances in medicine today & fertility treatments, I can’t imagine how anyone would think that this was the best decision she could make. I feel so sorry for her child & her husband.

  • Sarah

    This is the act of a mother that loves her Baby uncondictionally. Like every mother should. Like Zoe said it would be a much harder choice if you already had babies. I know I want everything in the world for my babies. For me that would be staying alive, but with that same breath I could not abort my baby. So prayer to this family any many other families that go threw this very hard times in life. You are very strong people and my God bless you.

  • Ms.T

    My prayer’s and heart go out to this family. For we are not placed on this Earth to judge…. I would like to say that I commend her for walking in faith!!! She was able to fulfill her dream of being a mother in her lifetime and God left her living legacy for her husband and her family:-)

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