Carrie DeKlyen is hours away from dying — but her final, selfless act to forego cancer treatment and carry her baby to term will “never be forgotten” says her husband.
“When our daughter gets old enough, I’ll tell her the story about her brave mommy,” Nick DeKlyen tells PEOPLE 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.”
Carrie, 37, was diagnosed with glioblastoma in April — an aggressive, rapidly growing malignant tumor that can affect the brain and spinal cord — but opted to avoid treatment to save her baby.
She gave birth via cesarean section to Life Lynn DeKlyen on September 6 at 24 weeks and 5 days.
“We gave up all of Carrie’s treatment to give Life a chance to survive,” says Nick, who has five other kids with Carrie: Elijah, 18, Isaiah, 16, Nevaeh, 11, Leila, 4, and Jez, 2. “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 — I’m trying to be happy for the baby but the love of my life is hours away from dying, it hurts so bad.”
It was after Carrie enrolled in a clinical trial at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, that doctors informed her she would need to “terminate her pregnancy” in order to receive cancer treatment, Carrie’s sister-in-law, Sonya Nelson, tells PEOPLE.
“And she didn’t want to do that,” Nelson explains.
Adds Nick: “The doctor said if you don’t terminate this baby, Carrie, you will die. But it was Carrie’s decision and I said, ‘What do you want to do?’ She said, ‘We’re keeping it.’ ”
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.”
“Her oxygen level is getting lower and her breathing is becoming shorter, she’ll take a breath and take another breath 20 seconds later,” says Nick. “These final moments are precious, it’s peaceful, but bittersweet.”
Nick — who met Carrie at church when he was just 12 years old — has 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.
“Now we’re just waiting. ”
Life, who weighed 1 lb. and 4 oz. at birth, is “doing great,” adds Nick. “She’s got my wife’s cute button nose.”
Carrie’s family has set up a GoFundMe page to help with finances after Carrie is gone.
“We’ll never understand why this had to happen, why we had to lose Carrie,” says Nick. “But all I know is that Life is an amazing miracle.”