Rihanna Truman is a young expectant mother observers describe as “proud as punch.” She’s prepared for her preborn son’s arrival with a bassinet, clothes, and teddy bears, and she wakes up every morning to his ultrasound images displayed on her wall. Rihanna is not only preparing for the happy day next week when she will welcome her son. Tragically, she is also preparing for the possibility of her own death.
Rihanna suffers from adamantinoma, a rare, virtually untreatable bone cancer. Adamantinoma comprises less than one percent of all bone cancers, so there is not much known about viable treatment options, and the cancer does not generally respond to chemotherapy and radiation. Rihanna discovered that she had the rare disease when she was only 12-years-old. Surgery failed to stop the cancer from spreading to her lungs. Her future was gravely uncertain.
Understandably, when Rihanna discovered she was pregnant earlier this year, friends and family were worried about her health. Because her condition is so rare, the potential effects of childbirth on her health are a complete unknown. Despite pressure to consider abortion, Rihanna says that was “not an option that I was willing to choose.”
Friends and family continued to pressure her out of fear that in giving birth she would put her own life in immediate danger. Rihanna says calmly that this possibility is “a risk I’m willing to take.”
Watching the video of an interview with Rihanna, you can’t help but notice her astonishingly calm demeanor. She describes her life as that of any “normal 16-year-old person,” and doesn’t see her sacrifice as extraordinary.
When speaking about her preborn son, Rihanna says, “If I die, I’m going to be happy. Because for me, I have lived my life, and my son will hopefully be grateful that I chose to have him.” She adds that if she passes away before her son has any memories of her, “I would want him to be proud of me as a mum.” No one could deny that her son will have much to admire about the courage and self-sacrifice of his young mother.
While some people who hear Rihanna’s story still think that she should have ended her son’s life in abortion to increase her own chances of surviving, Rihanna’s words reveal the beauty of choosing Life. In the face of death, Rihanna chose not to surrender to fear but instead live courageously. She says that before she was pregnant she woke up every day wishing she were no longer here. But now, “ever since I’ve been pregnant, I knew that this baby was my reason for staying in this world.”