Young Mother with Cancer Lays Down Her Life So Unborn Baby Can Live

JoiceNEW YORK — A New York woman is inspiring the masses after she recently passed away following her decision to postpone her cancer treatment in order to save her baby’s life.

Elizabeth Joice, 36, had always wanted a baby. But she was told by doctors that the chances that she and her husband Max could conceive were slim.

In 2010, doctors diagnosed Joice with cancer after locating a malignant tumor. After treatment, she went into remission and was declared cancer-free for three years.

Last summer, after being told that she and her husband may never have children due to the cancer treatment, Joice found out that she was pregnant. However, a month later, the Joices also discovered that the cancer had returned.

Doctors removed the tumor on her lung, but were unaware of whether the cancer had spread in the months that passed without a full MRI. But the MRI could mean terminating the life of the baby. Joice knew she had to save her baby’s life even if it meant losing her own.

“Having a kid was one of the most important things in the world to her,” her husband Max told 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 delayed any further treatments until the baby could be born. Although the child was to be born last month, doctors took the baby early, performing a Cesarean Section in January. Joice gave birth to a girl, whom she named Lily.

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However, following Lily’s birth, it was discovered that Joice’s cancer had indeed spread. Malignancy was found in her lung, her heart and her abdomen.

“Liz came home five days after Lily was born,” Max told reporters. “That one night at home was all we had.”

Joice went back to the hospital for treatment, but died on March 9th with her husband by her side.

“In the face of this life-threatening illness,” Max said, “she was so optimistic and so strong and so willing to go through whatever fight she would have to go through in order to have this baby.”

During her struggle, Joice met filmmaker Christopher Henze. He decided to document her decision in a forthcoming movie called 40 Weeks, which includes stories of other mothers who share their journeys in pregnancy and motherhood. 

Max states that he believes his wife’s story, including her appearance in the documentary, will continue to reach lives.

“Through her spirit and grace, she is still affecting people, and she will—through the movie—continue to impact people,” he said.

Photo Credit: Joice Family

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  • Nancy Wood

    This mother sacrificed her own life in order to give her baby a life. I hope Lily grows up hearing about how heroic her mother was. God bless that family!

  • Billie D

    Such a heartwrenching story. My mother discovered something was wrong with one of her breasts when she was pregnant with me. She pretty much knew it was cancer but she didn’t tell anyone because she was afraid that what they would do would harm me. After I was born she told the doctors. By that time she had green ooze coming out of her breast. They did a radical mastectomy and a years worth of radiation. She lived cancer free into my late teens, but it then came back. She had two bouts with it before it took her life when I was 23. A mother’s love.

  • What a beautiful sacrifice of life for another human being. I knew a woman personally who was in a house fire as a baby. Her wheelchair bound mother was in the house fire too and was told by firefighters that they could only take her out or her baby… she gave them the baby. This grown woman in her 50’s has scars all over her arms from the fire. Her mother is at rest in Heaven above. This woman reminds me of this situation.