A pregnant St. Louis woman delayed cancer treatment so she could deliver her baby with fewer complications, but died from melanoma on Dec. 8, three days after the birth of her daughter.
Cara Combs, 38, was 23 weeks pregnant when she was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma, KTVI reported. Combs went against her oncologist's advice by waiting until the 28-week mark to give birth so her daughter would have a better chance to survive -- which also meant postponing her cancer treatment.
On Dec. 5, Combs gave birth to Shaylin "Shay" Combs by emergency cesarean section. The newborn weighed just over 2 pounds, but began breathing on her own within a day, the Daily Mail reported.
The plan was for Cara to begin chemotherapy within 48 hours of giving birth, but her body had been ravaged by the cancer and the stress of the C-section, and she died three days later.
Her husband, Roy Combs, posted a message to the family's GoFundMe page later that day, telling friends, acquaintances and well-wishers: "I don't have to tell you how great of a person she was. She will be missed by all."
"She was the strongest person I ever met and the best wife and mother," Ray added. "She sacrificed everything so her legacy could live on."
As of Dec. 10, more than 700 supporters had raised $54,000 for the Missouri family, which set up the fund page "to provide as much normalcy to the kids as possible during this difficult time." After his wife was diagnosed, Ray wrote "there is no good decision here" and that his wife and unborn child were both "fighting for their lives."
"Cara completely put her baby before her own life, and it was amazing," family friend Emily Lucarz told KTVI.
A few days before the birth, Cara and Roy gathered with their son and two daughters for what would be their last family photo shoot, which Lucarz shot.
"It was so important for me to be able to give her family -- not knowing what was going to happen -- that gift of her kids having pictures with their mother," said Lucarz, who is a professional photographer.