In an unfortunate incident, a senior AIIMS nurse died of cancer after delaying cancer treatment in order to deliver her eighth child. 43-year-old Sapna Tracy, who hailed from Kerala, had cited her Catholic pro-life beliefs to ignore medical advice to terminate her pregnancy and undergo immediate surgery for breast cancer. She had delivered her eighth child in December 2015. It has been learnt that all her children are below age 15, accordng to Indian Express report. She died Thrissur in Kerala on Monday.
Tracy and her husband Chittilappally Joju (50) were active members of Jesus Youth and Catholic Charismatic Renewal movements since youth. Tracy used to work at AIIMS even as Joju served as a social worker under the Church in the national Capital. In recent years, both were actively involved in the pro-life movement of the Church. They used to promote large families and work against abortion. The Kerala Catholic Church diocese in Faridabad even honoured the couple for having a large family. “Tracy was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was in the third month of her eighth pregnancy. Doctors wanted termination of the pregnancy and immediate surgery to save her life. Friends and relatives too recommended that she go by medical advice. But she was determined not to agree to foeticide. Doctors warned her that she would orphan her seven other children if she did not start treatment. She told the doctor, ‘Only I can give birth to this child growing in my womb. There are many good-hearted people who can take care of my seven other children’,’’ Joju said.
Mastectomy was performed in the sixth month of her pregnancy. Doctors wanted to start radiation therapy and chemotherapy but Tracy had declined saying that she would agree to that only after giving birth. “A few months after the delivery, she went for radiation and chemotherapy. She had a strong conviction that we should not end a life even if it endangers her own life. Giving birth to eight children and rearing everyone with her own salary, Tracy was a wonder in our Delhi neighbourhood,’’ Joju said.
About a year ago, Tracy was told that the cancer had spread to the lungs. Joju took the entire family — five boys and three girls — to Kerala earlier this year. Joju said he always supported the stand his wife took. “We consider life very precious. We have no right to terminate it. I had no qualms about backing her decision not to abort and start cancer treatment. We could not have saved two lives. I believe population will drive development. Had Tracy been healthy, we would have gone for the ninth child,’’ he said.