A woman from New York holds off her own fight against life-threatening brain cancer until her unborn baby is safely delivered.
Kim Vaillancourt from Tonawanda was diagnosed with glioblastoma, the most common and aggressive form of brain cancer, after experiencing headaches and nausea since around Christmas. It was also just halfway through her pregnancy, thus she believes her baby made that life-saving trip to the hospital possible.
Now she is delaying the chemotherapy and radiation sessions that can potentially save her life in order to keep the developing baby, Wyatt Eli, safe in her womb.
"I would have just thought I had a headache and the flu and I would have laid in bed,” recalls the 36-year-old, adding that remaining unchecked by the doctor, however, made her worry about the baby’s wellness.
She and her husband, Phil, had also recently adopted three young girls into their family that time.
Life took an abrupt turn from that joyful moment of adoption to her Dec. 27 diagnosis, and the idea of Kim being rushed into surgery to remove two fatal tumors: one on the front of her brain and another riskily close to the brain stem in the back.
But the couple stays optimistic, deciding to prioritize the baby’s well-being at present. Kim now plans to start her treatment around two weeks after she gives birth, hopeful that her tumors do not return before then.
“We're praying a lot and trusting God through these next few weeks to keep these scans clean,” Phil says.
Kim’s childhood friend Jenna Koch has set up a GoFundMe account for her, as well as a number of fundraisers in the next couple of weeks.
Glioblastoma afflict around 17,000 adults in the U.S. each year. However it is not too common during pregnancy, according to Dr. Robert Fenstermaker of Buffalo’s Roswell Park Cancer Institute. The neurosurgeon has developed a vaccine for the disease, currently in clinical trial phase.
Only 30 percent of glioblastoma sufferers live beyond two years, because even if surgery takes out most of the tumor, it would be nearly impossible to control the invasive tendrils that spread into the brain region and allow tumor regrowth.
Doctors said, too, that patients with the kind of glioblastoma that Kim has maintain a median survival rate of around 14 months.
But Kim is holding on to her faith, sharing her hope that she will be around 30 years from now to tell her story of beating cancer.
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