When mother-of-five Carrie DeKlyen started waking up with bad headaches in March, she thought she may be experiencing the symptoms of migraines. But as the pain intensified and the pounding in her head induced vomiting, she thought she should probably get the condition checked out.
To her and her husband Nick’s shock, Carrie’s first brain scan revealed their worst nightmare: cancer.
Initially, doctors thought the mass in her brain was a treatable form of lymphoma, but a later pathology exam offered much more foreboding news. Carrie had an aggressive form of cancer called glioblastoma.
They warned the 37-year-old Michigan mom that she’d be lucky to live five years at best.
Carrie had the tumor surgically removed shortly after, but the following month threw yet another sharp curveball at the DeKlyens. Not only was the tumor back, but she was two months pregnant with their sixth child.
The two options she was given led this brave mother to make the ultimate sacrifice.
She had the choice to undergo chemotherapy to extend her life at the cost of ending her pregnancy, or go through with the pregnancy knowing she would die before ever meeting her baby.
For the DeKlyens, who cling tightly to their Christian faith, choosing the latter was a no-brainer.
“That’s what she wanted,” said Nick, adding that “We love the Lord. We’re pro-life. We believe that God gave us this baby.”
After a second removal, the brain mass came back larger than ever in June. It was officially inoperable, and all doctors could do was remove fluid around Carrie’s brain to alleviate the pain.
In mid-July, violent convulsions and excruciating pain landed Carrie in the University of Michigan hospital. She had suffered a stroke at 19 weeks pregnant.
That was the last moment Nick ever saw his wife conscious.
The hospital informed him that Carrie would not wake up again, and if she did, her memory would be gone. However, they’d still do all they could to keep her baby healthy and growing.
Though it meant having his wife and unborn child on a breathing machine and feeding tube for weeks, Nick knew God was taking care of the little miracle growing inside Carrie.
But the 22-week mark revealed devastating news, as their 378-gram baby was far too small to survive outside the womb, and she simply wasn’t gaining weight.
Thankfully, two weeks later, their little girl was big enough to make it through the delivery, but there was now a much bigger problem—she wasn’t moving.
The heartbroken husband was left with yet another dire decision on his hands.
He could hold off and pray that the baby started to move, but risk losing her in an hour’s time, or authorize a C-section.
He quickly chose the only option that meant LIFE.
And after his precious little angel was born at 5:30 pm that evening, weighing in at 1 pound 4 ounces, “Life” was exactly the name he chose for her.
Nick said he and Carrie had decided on the name ‘Life Lynn’ before his wife’s debilitating stroke.
“I sat by her the whole time. I kind of held her hand and kissing her, telling her that she did good,” said Nick.
“It was kind of bittersweet because my wife’s not awake. She’s going to pass away,” he added. “After that, I went to the surgeon and said my wife had enough. She’s gone through so much pain these last five months.”
The last five words he recalls uttering to her will be seared in his memory forever: “I’ll see you in heaven.”
Though the 39-year-old father is now left with six kids to raise as a single parent and no form of income, he vows to fight the good fight in his courageous wife’s honor, who loved the Lord with all her heart:
“She gave up her life for the baby. I just want people to know that my wife loved the Lord. She loved her kids. She put anybody in front of her needs.… She put my daughter above herself.”
The Cure 4 Carrie Facebook page shared the following Bible verse to commemorate her great act of sacrifice:
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13
As for Nick, he’s not sure what his next steps are outside of getting his daughter home, but he has peace in knowing his future is in his Father’s hands.
“My wife’s gone. I have six kids, three are under the age of 5,” he said. “I’m just going to focus on my daughter right now, getting her home…. As far as what I’m going to do after that, I can’t tell you.”
A GoFundMe page that has been set up to support Nick and his children has already raised more than $133,000. If you’d like to help this single father, click here to donate.
Our prayers are with the DeKlyens as they navigate this difficult time. Praise God for selfless mamas like Carrie who lay down their own lives for the sake of their children.