A Cancer Patient’s High-Risk Pregnancy

“The headaches kept getting worse,” recalls Lisa Allain of Welland. “Then I started to feel nauseous and I was having trouble finding words. I realized that something was seriously wrong after I had a seizure.”

Lisa underwent scans at her local hospital, which revealed the presence of a brain tumour.

A young mother’s worst fear

“Receiving the diagnosis was the scariest moment of my life,” she says. “I was a 26-year-old with two children, and I didn’t know how long I had to live. It shook my family to the core not knowing if there would be a tomorrow.”

Lisa underwent a biopsy at Hamilton General Hospital and additional testing at Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre. Her care team determined that surgery was too dangerous of an option, so she began an intensive program of radiation therapy and medication to stem the growth of the tumour.

Lisa poses for a photograph.

Lisa Allain

A life-threatening pregnancy

Another big surprise came when Lisa discovered she was pregnant.

“I was frightened about how the cancer would affect the baby,” recalls Lisa. “I was also worried that the pregnancy might cause the tumour to grow. I was admitted to McMaster University Medical Centre, where the high-risk obstetrics team helped reassure me during this stressful time.”

Lisa went into septic shock 29 weeks into the pregnancy, which was potentially life-threatening for both her and the baby. Luckily she stabilized and gave birth to a healthy baby girl at 35 weeks.

“Every day is a true gift for me.”

“I was so thankful when I heard my daughter Aspen crying and I knew she was okay. I call her my miracle baby.”

 Lisa with her daughter Aspen holding a “3” balloon on the beach.

Lisa with her daughter Aspen

Living with cancer

Lisa continues to receive outpatient care at Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre. Her ongoing journey with cancer has helped her gain perspective on the important things in life.

“Every day is a true gift for me,” she says. “Thanks to the amazing care I receive at Hamilton Health Sciences, I’m able to spend valuable time with my family and watch my beautiful children grow. I am truly blessed.”