Friday, April 4, 2014

Mom Succumbs to cancer 6weeks After Giving Birth

Elizabeth Joice was only a few
months pregnant when she
received a devastating diagnosis,
the cancer she thought had been
eradicated years earlier had
Joice, 36, had already agreed to
be a part of a documentary
exploring each week of
pregnancy called "40 Weeks"
when she received her diagnosis.

Director Christopher Henze said
that after Joice learned of her
diagnosis she was faced with a
choice either to abort the
pregnancy or continue it with
limited options on how to
diagnose and treat the disease.

Joice chose to continue her
pregnancy and had her baby in
January. But she died last month,
six weeks after giving birth.
Joice was initially declared
cancer-free in 2010, but the
chemotherapy had pushed her
into early menopause. As a result,
Henze said both Joice and her
husband, Max Joice, were
amazed when she became
pregnant last year.

Joice's cancer, non-differentiated
sarcoma, could be partially
removed by operation. However,
dyes used during scans could
impact Joice's pregnancy, so a full
body scan was not done to see if
there were other tumors. The
Joices decided against more
invasive scanning and treatment
and hoped the cancer would not
be virulent.

"Around week 25 or 26, they
went through the process of
removing it and [she] seemed
healthy. We felt as positive as we
could be," said Henze, who, with
his crew, had been following
Joice through pregnancy and
cancer appointments.
Joice appeared to love being
pregnant even after she had to
juggle morning sickness with
cancer treatments, Henze said.

"I would do this for living if I
could," Joice told Henze in an on-
camera interview. "I really enjoy
pregnancy a lot ... all the stuff
that's been happening has all
been really cool stuff."
Towards the end of the
pregnancy, there were signs that
the cancer had returned, as Joice
had trouble breathing, Henze
said. A scan revealed a mass in
her lungs, and doctors ordered
that Joice deliver immediately.

Joice's daughter, Lily, was
delivered by c-section in late
January, six weeks early.
Dr. Joanne Stone, the director for
Maternal Fetal Medicine at Mt.
Sinai Hospital in New York,
treated Joice and said there were
signs during the c-section to
suggest the cancer had returned.

"There were tons of tumor[s],"
Stone said. "It had spread all over
her abdomen."
Although Stone was worried
about Joice's breathing,
especially because of the mass in
her lungs, she said the first thing
Joice said when the breathing
tube was removed was, "How's
Lily? How's the baby?"
"Her first thoughts were not 'Am
I OK?," said Stone.
Further scans revealed Joice had
tumors throughout her
abdomen. Although she was put
into treatment, the cancer
advanced rapidly and she died
March 9.

When Joice first told Henze about
the diagnosis, Henze said, he had
hoped her story would be one of
recovery and that she could have
seen the documentary released.
"Her spirit is really beautifully
positive. She's so open and
thoughtful and considerate and
honest," Henze said. "As a
documentarian, that's what
you're always looking for. With
Liz, it was not only getting her
honest feeling. ... I was brought
into her family."

Stone called Joice a "remarkable"
person with a "sense of love and
life." Stone recalled visiting Joice
after she was released from the
ICU and was meeting her
newborn for the first time.
"She was holding the baby. Just
the joy on her face was just
incredible," said Stone. "She said
'This is worth it. ... I would do it
all again to have this child.'"

Reference: Gillian Mohney/ABC News

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