Blog Post

Woman Dies So that Her Child Might Live

An aggressive form of cancer has taken the life of a young Italian woman who chose to postpone treatment in order to save the life of her long-awaited child.

The Daily Mail is reporting that 28 year old Chiara Corbello died on June 13, a little more than a year after delivering her son, Francisco, whose life she put above her own when deciding not to abort him to begin treatment. Her June 16 funeral in Rome drew hundreds who were inspired by her heroism.

Cardinal Agostino Vallini, Vicar General of Rome and the main celebrant at her Mass, likened her to St. Gianna Beretta, who made the same sacrifice in similar circumstances earlier this century. 

Chiara, who was happily married to Enrico Petrillo, had already lost two children, David and Maria, to birth defects. When she became pregnant the third time and doctors told her the baby was developing normally, the couple was ecstatic.

But not long afterward, Chiara was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and doctors advised her to begin treatment immediately, a choice that would have put the health of her baby in jeopardy. Both Chiara and her husband were Roman Catholics who became pro-life activists after the loss of their two children. They decided to delay the treatment for the sake of their unborn child.

On May 30, 2011, Chiara delivered a healthy baby boy. Shortly thereafter, her health began to deteriorate and she lost sight in one eye. She spent the next year fighting for her own life, a battle that she lost thirteen months after the birth of her son.

But shortly before she died, she wrote a letter to her son, telling him that she is going to heaven to take care of his brother and sister.

"You stay here with dad. I will pray for you," she wrote.

When he's old enough to understand, Enrico plans to tell his son about his mother's heroism and also promised to teach him the importance of letting himself "be loved in order to love and die happy."

"I will tell him that this is what his mother, Chiara, did. She allowed herself to be loved, and in a certain sense, I think she loved everyone in this way," Enrico said. "I feel her more alive than ever. To be able to see her die happy was to me a challenge to death."

In an interview with Vatican Radio, Enrico said he and his wife learned from their three children that there is no difference in a life that lasts 30 minutes or 100 years.

He said, "It was wonderful to discover this love that grew more and more in the face of so many problems."

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