Utah mom of 6 given 24 hours to live defies odds, returns home

  • This photo shows Kathy and Nate Taylor with their son, Luke.

    This photo shows Kathy and Nate Taylor with their son, Luke.  (Amy Hales, 'Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep')

  • This photo shows Kathy Taylor returning home with her children and husband Nate.

    This photo shows Kathy Taylor returning home with her children and husband Nate.  (Taylor family photo. )

A Utah mother says her faith and family have helped her through an ordeal that saw her lose her infant son, and exceed doctors’ expectations after being given just 24 to 36 hours to live.

Kathy Taylor, 33, was forced to prematurely deliver her son Luke Tazelaar Taylor on Sept. 11, 2014 shortly after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of melanoma that had spread throughout her body. 

Skin cancer is the most common cancer found in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While some are at a higher risk of skin cancer than others, anyone can get it. 

At 26 weeks pregnant, Taylor was determined to prolong the delivery for as long as possible, but her liver started failing.

Luke was born weighing 1 pound 15 ounces. Doctors whisked him away to the neonatal intensive care unit at Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City before his mother, who was taken directly to the intensive care unit, father or any of his five siblings were able to spend time with him.

Shortly after the delivery, Taylor’s children and her husband, Nate, were brought in to say their final goodbyes to her. Doctors said she had only 24 to 36 hours to live.

As hours turned into days, Taylor defied the odds and her body began responding to treatment. Doctors started a treatment designed to inhibit cell mutation in her liver, which then allowed them to target the melanoma in the organ. During her initial prognosis, doctors doubted that treatment would reach this stage. 

“[The doctors] were shocked,” Taylor told FoxNews.com. “They kept coming back into my room and were really excited that I was improving.”

Although Taylor eventually gained the strength necessary to hold Luke, his siblings never got the chance to meet him before he died Sept. 27 of complications from an intestinal infection.

“They never got a chance to see him in the hospital,” said Taylor. “So it’s sad for them, but not as sad as it would have been,” adding that the family takes comfort in knowing “it’s in God’s hands.”

The family is holding a service for Luke on Friday, which his siblings helped plan.

Doctors released Taylor from the hospital Sept. 25, and told her that she can expect to remain home as long as she remains comfortable. 

As for Taylor, she’s taking one day at a time with her family, adding that it was her “faith in God and the love of [her] family,” that helped her through the two and a half week roller coaster of emotions.

“I’m most looking forward to spending each day with my family, just making each day a special day with them,” she said. “I’m hoping for the best, but preparing to go as well.”

Of her children, who are adjusting to having their mother back at home after being forced to say goodbye, Taylor said, “They love me dearly, I’ll do what I can to stay here for them.”

The family set up a GoFundMe Page that provided updates and shared pictures during Taylor’s hospital stay. She was very humbled upon seeing the outpouring of support from friends, family and total strangers in the form of notes and comments on the page.

“It was really emotional reading them from some people I know, some people I didn’t know, it was really very uplifting,” she said.  For now, doctors have Taylor on a drug treatment that attacks cancer in her liver and bones, and is different from traditional chemotherapy.

“[The doctors] basically said when I left that this might give me a year,” she said. “This isn’t going away.”

Still, Taylor said she is comforted knowing that whatever comes her way, God is sending it with a purpose. 

“I just don’t think that things don’t happen for a reason,” she said.