During the first week of November, 38-year-old Cara Combs was diagnosed with stage IV melanoma.
At the time, she was 25 weeks pregnant.
When she learned of her diagnosis, the mother of three from St. Louis, Missouri made the difficult decision to delay her cancer treatment so she could safely deliver her baby girl, Shaylin, at 28 weeks.
She'd explained her decision on Facebook, writing,
There is no good decision here. We will both be fighting for our lives and I feel incredibly guilty about that… At 38 you don't expect to find out that you are dying. It definitely puts things into perspective. All I can say is enjoy every minute with your kids and don't stress about the little things. The baby will probably be born the first week of December and I will start treatment 48 hours later. I know we are in for some big upcoming battles.
On December 8th, three days after delivering her fourth child, Combs passed away.
In the days between Shay's birth and Combs' death, photographer Emily Lucarz documented the family's battles in the hospital. The photos, which were posted to Facebook, showed tiny Shay growing stronger and Combs growing weaker.
Lucarz posted again upon news of Combs' untimely death, writing,
Heaven gained a new Angel this morning. Cara was an amazing wife, mother, daughter and sister. She sacrificed everything so her new little one could live on.
A friend of the family set up a GoFundMe account for Combs' husband and children, hoping the donations would help “provide as much normalcy to the kids as possible during this difficult time.”
So far, the crowdfunding page has raised more than $63,000. Head to GoFundMe to learn more about Combs' brave and selfless actions, and donate if you can.