Cara Combs was terrified when she was diagnosed with stage IV melanoma on Nov. 2, but not only for herself. The Missouri mother of three was also 23 weeks pregnant. Though a dermatologist had found nothing concerning during a check-up a year before, doctors said the cancer had spread throughout her body, per CBS St. Louis. Yet "against the advice of my oncologist, I am choosing to delay my treatment for three weeks in order to get the baby to 28 weeks," Combs wrote on Facebook on Nov. 13. The delay would boost her baby's chance of survival by 90%. At that point, "we will both be fighting for our lives." On Dec. 5, Combs delivered baby girl Shaylin weighing 2 pounds, 1.2 ounces. Just as she predicted, mother and baby struggled. Shaylin was put on a breathing tube, though doctors later removed it as her condition improved. Combs wasn't so lucky.
"Heaven gained a new angel this morning," the family's photographer, Emily Lucarz, wrote on Facebook on Tuesday. Combs "sacrificed everything so her new little one could live on," she said, later adding "giving baby Shaylin a chance at life was the most selfless thing she could have done." Though Combs' sister-in-law writes that Combs was scheduled to begin treatment Thursday, Lucarz says the already-weak woman suffered "complications unrelated to her cancer." She "ended up needing a liver transplant, but because of her cancer was not a candidate." Before she died, though, doctors "brought Shaylin to her and she got to hold the baby," a relative tells KTVI. "At 38 you don't expect to find out that you are dying. It definitely puts things into perspective," Combs wrote last month. "All I can say is enjoy every minute with your kids and don't stress about little things." (This heartbreaking story is incredibly similar.)