Ultimate Sacrifice: Mom Gives Up Chemo to Have Baby, Dies Weeks After Giving Birth

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March 30, 2014

When Elizabeth Joice found out that she was pregnant last year, she was overjoyed. The 36-year-old New Yorker had been cancer free for three years and thought she and her husband would never be able to have a child.

“I totally blew a gasket,” Max Joice said of the moment he found out his wife was pregnant. “They said there was no chance this was happening and here it was happening.”

Just days later, though, their elation turned to heartbreak. Elizabeth’s cancer had returned and doctors warned that the only way to have treatment was to terminate the then one-month-old pregnancy. Even worse, there was no way to find out just how far the cancer had spread without putting the baby at risk, making it harder for the expectant mom to know just how much danger she was placing herself in by postponing life-saving therapies.

Given an impossible choice, Elizabeth ultimately voted against cancer therapy and decided to be a mom.

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

Unfortunately, the cancer had returned in Elizabeth’s body with a vengeance and as the pregnancy went on she became weaker and weaker.

By late January, Elizabeth’s health had become so fragile that doctors had no other choice than to deliver Elizabeth’s baby two months early.

Max talked about the moments before Elizabeth went into surgery to give birth.

“We said our goodbyes,” Max said. “It was like something out of a movie. We sat there and cried. We tried to tell stories, talk about all the great things.”

Against the odds, Elizabeth’s body rallied and five days after the Caesarean section, Elizabeth was discharged from the hospital.

“That one night at home was all we had,” Max lamented. The next day Elizabeth went back into the hospital.

She died on March 9th, just one week after newborn Lilly’s original due date and days before her 37th birthday.

Even though mom and baby had only weeks together, Dad Max says he can see a glimmer of his wife in his healthy daughter. “Liz’s magic rubbed off on Lily. She’s beautiful and remarkable,” the proud dad cooed. “It provides me with the strength to get through this.”

Photo Credit: Maxwell Joice/Fundraiser Video

  • dee

    oh how sad. my mom got pregnant with me and and it made her weak she was very ill but wanted a baby and within a year she died.my condolences go out to the husband. i know it has to be very sad, but she lives on in your beautiful baby.

    • Brittany

      That is sad I’m so sorry

  • Gene Smith

    You read sad stories like this about a mom going all out for her baby, and then read stories of heartless moms and fathers that abuse, even kill their children, and it makes it hard to understand why a young mother with a new born baby has to die because of some dreadful thing such as cancer.

  • TSJones97

    I see a movie script in the making. And no, I’m not going to blast the screenwriter. This story SHOULD be told. Everyone should know Elizabeth Joices’ name, for all the RIGHT reasons. A respectful and reverent movie would ensure that folks did not forget this woman’s sacrifice. :(