Delhi: AIIMS catholic nurse dies of cancer for delivering her eighth child

Delhi: AIIMS catholic nurse dies of cancer for delivering her eighth child
PC: Indian Express

Thiruvananthapuram: Terminating pregnancies is still believed as a taboo in many religious sects and modernizations has certainly changed people’s mentality and cultural understandings, but not this Kerala woman’s Catholic belief’s which did not let her terminate her pregnancy and undergo an immediate breast cancer surgery.

Sapna Tracy (43) was a Catholic Christian who was working as a senior nursing officer at AIIMS in New Delhi ignored the medical advice and delayed her cancer treatment to deliver her eighth child in 2015 December she has died on Monday in Thrissur.

Tracy and her husband Chittilappally Joju (50), a resident of Chittatukara village in Thrissur, were active members of Jesus Youth and Catholic Charismatic Renewal movements.

Her husband worked as a social worker under the Church in the New Delhi while she was working at AIIMS. There eight children are all below the age of 15 years.

The couple was even honored by the Kerala Catholic Church diocese in Faridabad for having a large family and actively promoting to fight against abortion for the past couple of years.

Her husband, Joju speaking on his wife’s loss said: “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.’’

She was suffering from breast cancer which requires mastectomy as well as chemotherapy. Her husband says mastectomy was performed during the sixth month of the pregnancy. But she did not agree to undergo chemotherapy immediately and waited until her delivery.

“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.

It was only last year the doctors informed her about cancer that had spread to her lungs due to delay in the treatment. Her Husband took his entire family, his wife, five boys and three girls for a visit to Kerala earlier this year. He said he had always supported his wife’s stand. He had also counselled their children about their mother’s condition and prepared them for her death when it came.

“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.

“They had realised their mother would go one day. God and good-hearted people around them would take care of them. I have made them persons with hope. There is no room for despair.”

Fr Paul Madassery, Kerala Catholic Bishops Council’s Family Commission Secretary speaking on Tracy’s decision said she took the right decision and that, “We promote responsible parenthood. If a couple is healthy and can rear more children, there is nothing wrong in going for seven or eight or more children. When someone can rear more children, they should beget more.”

It was in the 1960s and 1970s, the Catholic Church took the lead in educating Catholic families about family planning in Kerala which have lead to drop of catholic communities numbers to 19% in the state.

But now the Church is encouraging members to have more children than four to increase the declining numbers of the community, India Express reported.