It’s every expectant mom’s worst nightmare. Carrie DeKlyen found out she had cancer and that she was pregnant at almost the exact same time. The discovery meant she’d have to choose between treatment for terminal brain cancer or life for her unborn child.
The Wyoming mom of five was in the early stages of pregnancy when she found out about both conditions, a time when many still consider the life growing inside of them a “bunch of cells.” But Deklyen and her husband, Nick, were life long Christians and pro-lifers. There was no other decision but one — this baby would get a chance to live.
The doctors told Carrie that declining treatment meant she would be dead within 10 months, but she refused to give in. She was even approved for a clinical trial, but was told she couldn’t proceed if she was pregnant.
“Even with everything on the table, my wife chose the baby,” Nick said, noting that they were both at peace with the decision.
With so much at stake, Nick quit his job to care for Carrie and their five children, the youngest of which was only two years old. They trusted they would get by on donations with the help of a GoFundMe page and prayers.
Things got bad quickly — and at 19 weeks it looked like maybe both Carrie and the baby would die. Carrie lost consciousness but doctors said if they could keep her alive and let the baby grow to a survival weight, they could hopefully save the little one.
Barely there, they delivered the baby via C-section at just 24 weeks, 5 days. Such an early delivery is dangerous, but doctors felt confident that they could keep the baby alive. They named the baby “Life” and hours later, her mother’s life support and feeding tubes were removed.
Carrie Deklyen made the ultimate sacrifice so her baby could have a chance at life — so much so that her own was taken away just her daughter’s was starting. Nick has a big job ahead of him, continuing to raise now, six children, on his own — but he knows he will see his wife again someday.
“This life is so quick,” he said. “I’m 39. It feels like I’ve blinked; I don’t even know where my life went. Before I know it, I’m going to be an old man. I’m going to pass away, and I’m going to see her again. I understand that. That gives me peace.”
At her memorial service, the program featured the Bible verse John 15:13, which reads: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”