A cancer survivor revealed that her husband left her while she was six months pregnant and undergoing chemotherapy because he claimed he ‘couldn’t handle it’ – but she said she has never blamed him for it.
Tracey Ferrin, now 39, from Houston, Texas, was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer in September 2001 – while she was pregnant with her second child.
However, in the midst of undergoing cancer treatment and battling for her life – all while growing a baby inside of her – her husband Nick told her he wanted a divorce.
The couple, who already shared a 10-month-old baby, went their separate ways, and the expecting mother, who was just 18 at the time, was left to fend for herself.
A cancer survivor (pictured in 2022) revealed that her husband left her while she was six months pregnant and getting chemotherapy because he ‘couldn’t handle it’
Tracey Ferrin, now 39, from Houston, Texas, was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer in September 2001 – while she was pregnant with her second child
However, in the midst of undergoing severe treatment and battling for her life – all while growing a baby inside of her – her husband, Nick, told her he wanted a divorce
Tracey (pictured in 2022) said the entire experience made her stronger and pushed her to fight even harder – since she knew she was all her unborn baby and her daughter had left
But Tracey said the entire experience made her stronger and pushed her to fight even harder, since she knew she was all her unborn baby and her daughter had left.
Tracey and Nick wed in 2000, right before they welcomed their first daughter, Elly.
Tracey got pregnant again soon after.
When she began to develop pain in her knee a few months into the pregnancy, the then-mom-of-one thought it was nothing serious, since she had no prior health concerns and lived an active lifestyle.
However, while attending church one Sunday with her husband, they ran into a local doctor who specialized in knees and shoulders. While speaking with him about the pain, she was advised to go to the hospital.
‘He didn’t say anything at the time but later, he admitted to me that he knew it was serious,’ Tracey told the Mirror.
After visiting the hospital and running some scans, she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer.
The expecting mother was then given two options – to start chemotherapy right away and abort her baby, or prolong treatment and risk her health while waiting until the baby was stronger.
The couple, who already shared a 10-month-old baby, went their separate ways, and the expecting mother, who was just 18 at the time, was left to fend on her own
The expecting mother (pictured in 2022) was given two options – to start chemotherapy right away and abort her baby, or prolong treatment and risk her health while waiting until the baby was stronger
When she reached the six-month mark of her pregnancy, she began chemotherapy. And as she got sicker, her relationship began to fall apart. Tracey is pictured with her first daughter, Elly
‘My doctors advised me to terminate my pregnancy. They said they didn’t have any research showing a healthy baby being born to a mother who underwent chemo in their first or second trimester,’ she previously wrote in an essay for Love What Matters.
‘I told my doctors that termination wasn’t an option. That chemo would have to wait ’till after she was born. They told me waiting wasn’t an option. By then it could be too late.
‘I had high grade osteosarcoma, meaning it grows and spreads quickly if left untreated.
‘The problem with this was once it spreads to my lungs, my five-year survival rate would go from 60-80 per cent to 40 per cent and if it spread elsewhere, my five-year survival rate would drop to 15-30 per cent.
‘No matter how young a mother is, her instincts to protect her child is fierce. All I could think about was saving my unborn child’s life. All my doctors were thinking about, was saving mine.
‘Thankfully I’m suborn and a fighter. Tell me no, Tell me I can’t, Tell me it’s impossible, and I will prove you wrong.’
When she reached the six-month mark of her pregnancy, doctors became convinced that her baby could handle it, and Tracey began undergoing chemotherapy.
She suffered from hair loss and constant nausea, and as she got sicker, her relationship began to fall apart.
‘Nick couldn’t handle it. He’d been upset that I hadn’t focused on my own health by going through with the termination,’ explained Tracey to the Mirror.
‘His family told me he couldn’t stand by and watch the girl he loves, die. He too was young, and I know expecting him to care for me, was asking a lot of him,’ she recalled
She eventually gave birth to her second daughter, Fayth, six weeks before her due date
What is osteosarcoma?
- Osteosarcoma is a rare type of bone cancer
- It most often occurs in the long bones that make up the arms and legs, though it can occur in any bone. It tends to occur in children and young adults
- Symptoms include localized bone pain and swelling, as well as bone injury or break for no clear reason
- Treatment typically involves surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation
- Source: MayoClinic
‘I can talk about it now, but at the time it was heartbreaking. I was pregnant, I had a 10-month-old baby and I was fighting for my life.’
Tracey told the New York Post that seeing her deteriorate became ‘triggering’ for Nick, then 20.
‘The day he left me, I was in my bedroom, and I had just thrown up from the chemo,’ she recalled.
‘I think seeing me throw up is what triggered him. I don’t remember exactly what he said to me, but he called a friend to come and pick him up, packed a bag and left.
‘I was totally heartbroken, crying and I begged him to stay, but he didn’t.’
She added to Love What Matters, ‘His family told me he couldn’t stand by and watch the girl he loves, die.
‘Even though I kind of grasped that, it didn’t make me feel any better. He too was young, and I know expecting him to care for me, was asking a lot of him. He did the best he could under horrible circumstances.’
But losing her husband in the midst of everything she was going through just made her want to fight harder for her children.
Throughout her treatment, Tracey suffered from low blood pressure, mouth sores so painful she could hardly eat or drink, extreme weight loss, dehydration, and even kidney failure.
She would often go into early labor from the chemotherapy, and doctors would have to give her medicine to stop the contractions.
She eventually gave birth to her second daughter, Fayth, six weeks before her due date.
‘I remember thinking, “Am I delivering an alien?” because my doctors had never delivered a baby that had been exposed to chemotherapy before,’ she told the Mirror.
Fayth was born at just three pounds 10 ounces, and Nick was by her side during the birth
She resumed her treatments two weeks after giving birth, while her mom watched her two baby daughters (pictured)
Tracey underwent treatment for another year, and received surgery to remove part of the tumor from her leg – before she finally went into remission
‘I was bald and sick, and we were expecting I’d have a bald baby too – but she came out with a full head of dark hair. We also didn’t expect she’d be screaming at the top of her lungs.’
Fayth was born at just three pounds 10 ounces, and Nick was by her side during the birth.
‘She was tiny of course, but she was OK,’ said Tracey, who recalled feeling ‘relief’ after she was born.
She eventually met a man named Ryan at church, who changed her life. They got engaged four weeks later and married three months after that
‘I thought, “She’s out and now I can focus on myself. I don’t have to worry about her anymore.”‘
She resumed her treatments two weeks after giving birth, while her mom watched her two baby daughters.
‘My mom became the main caregiver for my children and for me. She missed so much work she got fired,’ Tracey continued.
‘I couldn’t even do feedings for Fayth because I didn’t have any energy. Mom was essentially mothering my child.’
Tracey underwent treatment for another year, and received surgery to remove part of the tumor from her leg – before she finally went into remission.
She added: ‘I couldn’t walk on it for about 10 months. When you’re having chemo, your body heals much more slowly.’
But even after she was cured, she continued to struggle – facing difficulties adjusting back to her normal life.
They went on to welcome two sons together, named Bubba, now 17, and Noah, now 13. Ryan also adopted Elly and Fayth, now 22 and 20
Looking back on the entire thing, Tracey doesn’t blame Nick for leaving her, explaining that he was suffering from mental health issues. She is pictured with her new husband, Ryan
‘The transition was harder than I thought,’ she admitted. ‘I couldn’t tell people about it who hadn’t been through it because they just didn’t get it.
‘When you’re in that situation you go into survival mode and don’t have time to process anything. But when it’s done, that’s when it hits you.
‘I was also learning how to be a mom to two girls and that involved a lot of adjustments. I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life from now on.’
‘I thought my life would go back to normal,’ she added to What Love Matters. ‘Something I didn’t understand and something I think a lot of people don’t, is just because treatments are done or you are cancer free, doesn’t mean life goes back to the way it was before or that it should.
‘My experience with cancer was very traumatic and life altering. I needed to allow my body that I had just poisoned for over a year, time to heal along with my heart and mind.’
She eventually met a man named Ryan at church, and he changed her life.
‘He scooped me right up. After our first date, I went home to my mom and said, “I’m going to marry him,”‘ she gushed to the Mirror.
They got engaged four weeks later and married three months after that. They went on to welcome two sons together, named Bubba, now 17, and Noah, now 13. Ryan also adopted Elly and Fayth, now 22 and 20.
Looking back on the entire ordeal, Tracey doesn’t blame Nick for leaving her, explaining that he was suffering from mental health issues of his own.
In 2016, Nick passed away after he took his own life, something that Tracey admitted was ‘really hard’ for her to process. She is pictured with her family
Now, the mom (pictured with new husband, Ryan) works as a fitness instructor and owns two gyms. She also published a book in 2020, entitled Up Struggle, and is a public speaker
‘I think all those years ago, we didn’t understand mental health. He wasn’t always the nicest guy but at the time I didn’t know he was struggling,’ she shared.
‘In general there’s a shame around it for men. It seems more acceptable for women to talk about it than men. I don’t know how much of that was a factor in Nick’s case.
‘I never blamed him. Where was blaming him going to get me? If anything, it would have stopped me from moving forward.’
She also told the Post, ‘While I was going through chemo, doctors told me that it’s much more common for men to leave when a woman is sick than it is for a woman leaving when her husband gets sick.
‘I always say, “If a man can’t handle you at your worst, he doesn’t [deserve to] get you at your best.”
‘And if cancer [wasn’t the thing that caused Nick to leave], something else would have drove him away.’
In 2016, Nick passed away after he took his own life, something that Tracey admitted was ‘really hard’ for her to process.
‘It was really hard. His dad called me to tell me. I just went into shock – it didn’t seem real,’ she recalled to the Mirror.
‘Then I was a mess. I felt such guilt. I’d never felt resentment towards him but I wondered what would have happened if I’d done things differently.’
Now, the mom-of-four works as a fitness instructor and owns two of her own gyms.
‘I was invited to take a fitness class one day – and after that, I just couldn’t stop,’ she said of her love for working out.
‘After my surgery doctors weren’t sure if I’d be able to go on and do lots of active things.
‘It lit a fire in me and I wanted to prove to them that they were wrong. I was a mom with four babies at home and I was still processing cancer. I was a bit lost and I didn’t really know what I liked.’
She also published a book in 2020, entitled Up Struggle, and is a public speaker, often sharing her story in the hopes of inspiring other women who are struggling with similar situations.
‘Speaking wasn’t something that was ever on my radar. Like ever! But then my aunt who worked for MD Anderson Cancer Center asked me if I would give a five minute speech in front of hundreds of their employees,’ she wrote on her website.
‘I wanted to say no but couldn’t pass up an opportunity to express my gratitude for all their hard work in saving my life back in ’01 when I had Osteosarcoma.
‘That five minute speech turned into a 15 minute speech which turned into a 30 minute speech. I quickly realized I enjoyed lifting others through my words, spoken or written.
‘I am passionate about connecting to others, be it stay at home moms like I once was or a working woman, like I am now.’