'Mom of the Year' nominee refused abortion despite cancer battle

By Hillary Senour

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Maria Pitman and her daughter Johanna. Photo courtesy of the Pitman Family.

The women who were nominated for Walmart’s Canadian “Mom of the Year” contest have many outstanding qualities, but few can claim they fought off breast cancer and gave birth to their seventh child at the same time.

“We knew right from the beginning that God wouldn't give us this life and then ask us to take it,” Maria Pitman told EWTN News July 10, explaining that the doctor wanted her to abort her child.

Pitman, a Canadian homeschooling mother of seven, was diagnosed with breast cancer early on in her most recent pregnancy.

Medically, the doctor said it “made sense” because it would make testing and treatment easier than if she were carrying a child.

“We came home that day knowing we couldn't make that decision, and that God wouldn't be asking us to do that,” Pitman said.

Doctors continued to encourage Pitman to have an abortion, even up until the day before she underwent a full mastectomy 20 weeks into her pregnancy.

The day of surgery, however, the doctors stopped asking Pitman if she wanted to abort, because “they realized we were not about to change our minds.”

During that time, Pitman and her husband Jeff learned that, after one daughter and five boys in a row, they were having another girl.

“Those were the only tears I cried that day; in joy that it was a girl,” she said.

After the mastectomy, Pitman endured three rounds of chemotherapy, in between which she delivered her daughter Johannah at 36 weeks.

Weighing in at seven pounds and six ounces, “she came out perfectly healthy.”

Pitman faced one of her hardest trials when, after Johannah's birth, she and her family had to travel three hours from their home in Yarmouth to Halifax for six weeks of radiation therapy while still homeschooling four of her children.

“I kind of figured things would be easier (since) I wasn't pregnant anymore,” Pitman explained, “but things got so much worse.”

Pitman said she would ask God just “for strength to get out of bed and spend some time with the kids.”

And God did support Pitman and her family, even during the toughest trial. “The Lord provided and orchestrated everything for us for the entire year,” especially by bringing “all the right people into our lives at the right time,” she said.

Pitman found particular strength in the scripture passage Matthew 21:21-22, which says in part, “ ... but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen. And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” 

“God was able to move the 'cancer mountain' for our family,” she said.

After her battle with breast cancer, Pitman's 17 year-old daughter, Jocelyn, nominated her for Walmart's “Mom of the Year” award, which is a “celebration of the 9.2 million Canadian Moms who work tirelessly every day to provide for their family.”

The winner will receive $10,000 in cash and a $100,000 donation will be made to the charity of her choice. The top mom will also be honored with a “day of pampering,” a photo shoot and a “special red carpet gala” in Toronto.

Should she win, Pitman will give her donation to Camp Peniel, a nearby Christian camp where her daughter Jocelyn works.

“This camp is amazing and is doing a fabulous job of sharing Jesus Christ to so many each year,” Pitman said.

Nominations closed July 8, but the judges will deliberate the 16,909 entries and announce a winner “around August 15.”

Story corrected July 13, 2012 at 3:12 p.m. CST. Original article incorrectly stated that Pitman had a double mastectomy. Pitman underwent a full mastectomy on one side.

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