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BEAR RIVER, Box Elder County — Kathy Taylor is resting at home and treating every day with her family as a gift.
“Coming home and seeing how much my family loves having me here and needing me here, it just makes it harder to leave,” she said.
The past two weeks have been an emotional roller-coaster ride for the Taylor family. The mother of five was 26-weeks pregnant with her sixth child when she found out she had an aggressive form of melanoma.
Seven years ago, doctors removed melanoma from Taylor's back. At the end of June, she learned the cancer was back and had spread throughout her body.
“I would try to take a breath and it was like something was stabbing me,” she said.
Taylor couldn’t receive treatment while she was pregnant but did what she could to keep the pregnancy going for as long as possible.
Her husband, Nate Taylor, said doctors determined her liver was going to fail and she had to deliver the baby. On Sept. 11, she gave birth to Luke Tazelaar Taylor, who weighed 1 pound, 15 ounces.
In the days following Luke’s birth, Kathy Taylor said she was barely holding on but hoping for the chance to hold her newborn.
“They thought at the time she had 24 to 36 hours to live,” said Kathy's husband, Nate Taylor.
“I felt really peaceful,” Kathy Taylor said. “I thought, 'I’ve lived a really good life, a very full life. I got to be with my kids a lot.' I felt like I was going to die. The next morning I woke up and was feeling better.”
On Kathy’s Miracle FundMe page, where the family has shared her story, she wrote, “I really believe that it was literally the thousands of prayers spoken that I am still here. I have been touched so deeply by the amazing outpouring of love from many of whom I have never met. I have seen such a profoundly deep and touching side of humanity that I will never forget. Thank you.”
Doctors said she was well enough to start a new treatment that could prolong her life. A few days after beginning treatment, doctors said she had surpassed their expectations. She even got the chance to hold her baby.
Even though her liver is in failure, doctors were able to stabilize her and she was able to go home Thursday.
“They gave me about a year,” she said.
While she was being treated for her cancer, doctors said baby Luke was not strong enough to breathe on his own, and he was put on a machine to help his lungs. Like his mother, he was a fighter. But a sudden onset of infection proved too much for him, and at 8:45 p.m. Saturday, Luke died.
“I thought Luke was going to make it,” Nate Taylor said. “I know a lot of people have prayed for him, and I just appreciate that.”
“I believe none of us are taken before our time,” Kathy Taylor said. “I just see him as my guardian angel now. I see him up there, and I’m comforted."
Kathy Taylor is now home enjoying every minute possible with her children.
“She can't do very much things on her own, and so we have to help her a little more than usual,” said 10-year-old Ally Taylor. “I want her to live a long life and not die.”
Through it all, the family has relied heavily on their faith and choose not to view any of this as a tragedy.
“I'll try to do everything in my power to stay, but I know it's not in my hands, and I’m OK with that,” she said.
Kathy Taylor's story has spread through social media, and complete strangers are reaching out offering well wishes and encouragement. Closer to home, neighbors are pitching in too, feeding the family's goats and mowing the lawn.
Doctors say Kathy Taylor might have a year, but the family is staying hopeful.
“You can do it miserably or you can do it with a smile on your face,” she said. “I wouldn't change any of it.”
Contributing: Viviane Vo-Duc