"Headaches got worse," recalls Lisa Allain from Wellington.
"Then I started to feel nauseated and I had trouble finding the word. I realized something was wrong after I had an attack."
Allain was subjected to a scan at his local hospital where the presence of brain tumors was discovered.
"Getting the diagnosis was the most terrible moment in my life," she says. "I was a 26-year-old with two children, and I did not know how long I had to live. It shook my family to the core, not knowing if it would be tomorrow."
Allain was subjected to biopsy in the Hamilton General Hospital and additional studies at the Juravini Hospital and the Cancer Center. Her nursing team found that surgery was a dangerous option, so she started an intensive radiotherapy program and drugs to stop tumor growth.
Another big surprise came when Allain found out she was pregnant.
"I was afraid that cancer would affect the baby," Allain remembers. "I was also worried that pregnancy could cause tumor growth. I was admitted to McMaster University Medical Center, where the high-risk team of obstetricians helped me persuade me during this stressful time."
Allain went to a septic shock for 29 weeks in pregnancy, which is potentially life-threatening for her and for the child. Fortunately, she stabilized and gave birth to a healthy girl for 35 weeks.
"I was so grateful to hear my daughter Aspen crying and I knew she was okay. I call her a miracle."
Allain continues to receive ambulatory care at the Juravini hospital and the Cancer Center. Her constant journey with cancer helped her get a perspective on important things in her life.
"Every day is a real gift for me," she says. "Thanks to the incredible concern I get at Hamilton Health Sciences, I can be at home with family and I can see how my wonderful children are growing up and can continue to be an active member of the community that I love so much."
Allain shares his story as a support to the "Gift of Health" campaign, which collects funds to enable specialized care provided by Hamilton Health Sciences. The donor support of the Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation is necessary to enable this level of specialized care for patients such as Allain, who lives in Niagara, and in the entire southern central part of Ontario.