The short newspaper notice announcing the death of Cathy Holt of Maple Ridge on December 9 gave no clue as to the cause of her death.  It was cancer.  But that tells only part of the story.  It might also be said that Mrs. Holt, just 32 gave her life so he second child, Julianna, could live.

It was exactly six years ago December when, after finding some lumps in her breasts, Mrs. Holt entered hospital for tests.  There she would discover two things that would change her life forever; she had breast cancer and she was pregnant.

The news rocked the young family.  Cathy and Todd Holt, now 32 had married in 1988 and had a son, Stephen, in 1989.  The couple, both teachers in the Catholic school system were devout and strongly pro-life.  Cathy’s doctors said her cancer had already spread to two lymph nodes; they wanted her to undergo a mastectomy and, after the surgery, abort the child and begin chemotherapy.

If she agreed to have the abortion and chemotherapy, they told her, she would have a 66 per cent chance of remaining cancer-free for five years.  If she delayed though, her chances dropped to one in three.  If she had chemotherapy without the abortion, the baby would most likely die or be severely deformed.

The advice deeply disturbed the couple.  After Mrs. Holt left hospital, the couple spent the weekend in seclusion, talking and praying.  She decided to have the mastectomy, but to wait until after the birth to have the chemotherapy.

Doctors urged her to have the abortion and chemotherapy, but she stuck by her decision.  “It was confusing.  I could see how easy it could be for someone to have an abortion,” she said later.  “I couldn’t kill my baby, not knowing for sure whether it would help me or not.”

She gave birth to a perfectly healthy girl Julianna, on October 6th, 1991.  She began chemotherapy the following month.

During the next five years, Mr. Holt recalls, his wife had four different courses of chemotherapy treatment and needed more surgery in the spring of 1995 when her cancer reappeared.  Indeed, during most of the five years after Juliann’s birth.  Mrs. Holt was ill and bedridden.

When she finally died last month, many of the people attending her told Mr. Holt about how his wife had inspired them.

John Hof of Campaign Life Coalition, B.C. said Cathy’s sacrifice reveals the sanctity and value of all life.