For Kim Vaillancourt, pregnant while staving off aggressive rare brain cancer, it comes down to this: "The baby saved me. Now it's my turn to save him." Vaillancourt was diagnosed with glioblastoma—deadly and fast-growing tumors known to reappear within eight to 12 weeks—after going to the hospital for headaches and nausea that came on over Christmas, the AP reports. Were it not for concern for the boy she's carrying, she and her husband, Phil, say it was a life-saving trip she wouldn't have made. Now, to give the baby they've named Wyatt Eli the same chance he gave her, Kim is postponing the chemotherapy and radiation that are her best hope against the cancer but would threaten her developing child. "She's going to do what she can to save the baby's life and give it the healthiest life possible," Phil Vaillancourt says.
The couple from Tonawanda, NY, and their two tweens spent Dec. 23 at an adoption ceremony that made three sisters the couple had been fostering their permanent family. With five kids on break from school, Kim, 36, wouldn't normally have fussed about feeling ill. But she worried that not keeping food down was keeping the baby from getting nourishment and went to the hospital. She was rushed into surgery to remove two tumors doctors said could've killed her. Unwilling to risk the baby's health with radiation and chemo, the plan is to begin treatment about two weeks after his birth; Kim's target delivery date is April 25. With treatment, doctors say patients with the serious glioblastoma afflicting Kim have a median survival rate of about 14 months. Early in a pregnancy, a woman might be advised to end the pregnancy in favor of aggressive treatment, a Buffalo neurosurgeon says. Women further along have undergone chemotherapy but not without risk to the baby. "We definitely believe in miracles," Phil says. (Read more pregnancy stories.)