Carrie DeKlyen, the Michigan mother of six who sacrificed cancer treatment that would have saved her life but ended her pregnancy, died Saturday — three days after delivering her newborn baby. She was 37.
Her husband Nick DeKlyn told the Associated Press that Carrie was surrounded by family at the time of her death. Nick said one of the last things he said to his wife was “I’ll see you in Heaven.”
Carrie was diagnosed with glioblastoma in April, an aggressive, rapidly growing malignant tumor that can affect the brain and spinal cord.
It was after Carrie enrolled in a clinical trial at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor when doctors informed her she would need to “terminate her pregnancy” in order to receive cancer treatment, Carrie’s sister-in-law, Sonya Nelson, told PEOPLE Friday. “She didn’t want to do that,” Nelson said.
“The doctor said if you don’t terminate this baby, Carrie, you will die,” Nick added. “But it was Carrie’s decision and I said, ‘What do you want to do?’ She said, ‘We’re keeping it.’ ”
She gave birth via cesarean section to Life Lynn DeKlyen on Sept. 6 at 24 weeks and 5 days. Though the baby was born premature, Nick said Life is doing well.
“We gave up all of Carrie’s treatment to give Life a chance to survive,” Nick — who shared kids Elijah, 18, Isaiah, 16, Nevaeh, 11, Leila, 4, and Jez, 2 with Carrie — said. “Her birth meant that this wasn’t all for nothing, my wife will pass on and my baby will live.
“She wanted this, but it’s tough,” he said. “I’m trying to be happy for the baby but the love of my life is hours away from dying, it hurts so bad.”
After delivering Life, Carrie was taken off of life support, with her family telling supporters on their Facebook support page Cure 4 Carrie that she is “very comfortable she is in God’s hands until he calls her home.”
RELATED VIDEO: Mom of 5 Gives Birth to Daughter While in a Coma After Refusing Cancer Treatment to Save Her Child
Nick — who met Carrie at church — told PEOPLE Friday he had already said goodbye to his longtime sweetheart: “I kissed her on the forehead and said, ‘I love you, you did it you gave our baby life and she’s doing well’ and then I let her go,” he said.
Though she’s gone now, Nick said her final, selfless act to forgo her life for her baby’s will “never be forgotten.”
“When our daughter gets old enough, I’ll tell her the story about her brave mommy,” Nick explained through tears. “I’ll tell her that God gave her the gift of life with an awesome plan in mind and we’re not sure why mommy had to be sick and pass away to do so, but it’s all a special plan and we must trust it.
“I’ll tell her that mommy did this because she loves you and she is in Heaven and we’ll see her again — soon, soon.”