"The headache keeps getting worse," recalled Lisa Allain from Welland.
"Then I started feeling nauseous and I had trouble finding words. I realized that something was seriously wrong after I had a seizure."
Allain underwent a scan at a local hospital, which revealed a brain tumor.
"Receiving a diagnosis is the most frightening moment of my life," he said. "I am 26 years old with two children, and I don't know how long I have to live. It shook my family to not know whether there will be tomorrow."
Allain underwent a biopsy at Hamilton General Hospital and additional tests at the Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Center. His care team determined that surgery was an overly dangerous choice, so he began an intensive radiation therapy program and treatment to stem tumor growth.
Another big surprise came when Allain found out she was pregnant.
"I'm afraid of how cancer will affect the baby," recalled Allain. "I'm also worried that pregnancy will cause tumors to grow. I was treated at McMaster University Medical Center, where a high-risk midwifery team helped convince me during this stressful period."
Allain has septic shock 29 weeks after pregnancy, which is potentially life-threatening for her and her baby. Fortunately, he was stable and gave birth to a healthy baby girl at 35 weeks of age.
"I was very grateful when I heard my daughter Aspen crying and I knew she was fine. I called her my magical baby."
Allain continues to receive outpatient care at Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Center. His ongoing journey with cancer has helped him gain a perspective on important things in life.
"Every day is a true gift for me," he said. "Thanks to the incredible care that I received at Hamilton Health Sciences, I was able to go home for a vacation with my family. I can watch my children grow and I can continue to be an active member of the community that I love so much. Blessed."
Allain shared her story in supporting the Health Prize campaign, which raised funds to enable special care provided by Hamilton Health Sciences. Donor support from the Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation is very important to enable this particular level of care to allow patients like Allain who live in Niagara, and throughout south-central Ontario.