For New York mom Kim Vaillancourt, the choice between potentially life-saving cancer treatment and saving the life of her unborn baby is clear. After all, she says, the baby saved her life — now it’s her turn to save his.
At twenty weeks into her pregnancy, Kim Vaillancourt ended up in the hospital with what she assumed were merely flu symptoms. The mom had been suffering from a headache, as well as nausea so severe that she was unable to keep her food down. It was concern for her baby that prompted her to go to the hospital, worried that her inability to keep food down would have health implications for her unborn son.
“I would have just thought I had a headache and the flu and I would have laid in bed,” Vaillancourt told the Associated Press.
But instead of being diagnosed with the flu, Kim, a 36-year-old pregnant mother with five children, was diagnosed with glioblastoma, which is an aggressive tumor known for rapid growth, which affects the brain or spine. While at the hospital, doctors discovered several tumors. One was located dangerously close to Kim’s brain stem.
Cancer was the last diagnosis Kim expected. The mom has always focused on vitamins and nutrition, and she laughingly described her method of texting — holding her cell phone as far away from her body as her arms would allow — as well as keeping the microwave oven the family uses in the garage for the past decade. Although there is no scientific proof that either cellphones or microwaves cause cancer, Kim has always been hyper-vigilant.
But cancer, as many unfortunately know, does not discriminate.
Vaillancourt was diagnosed with the cancer in December, she told the Associated Press. She was rushed into surgery, where the tumors were removed.
Vaillancourt was twenty weeks along with her sixth child. And both Kim and her husband Phil credit their unborn child with saving her life.
“If it wasn’t for the baby, she probably would’ve never gone to the hospital,” Phil Vaillancourt told WGRZ. “With her severe headache and nausea… she would’ve laid in bed thinking it was the flu, and she would’ve possibly not been here today.”
The diagnosis came just days after the family celebrated the adoptions of three of their children. The couple, along with their 11- and 12-year-old children, had spent the day before Christmas Eve in family court for the adoption ceremony that made the three little girls, ages 6, 7, and 10, that the family had been fostering into permanent members of their growing, loving family.
And now, Kim is refusing to undergo the recommended follow-up radiation and chemotherapy in order to save her unborn son, whom they have named Wyatt Eli. Husband Phil supports her decision.
“She’s going to do what she can to save the baby’s life and give it the healthiest life possible.”
For Kim, the reasoning behind her decision is simple.
“The baby saved me. Now it’s my turn to save him.”
The tumors with the type of cancer Vaillancourt has are characterized by their quick return, often just eight to twelve weeks after their removal. Because of that, Kim undergoes MRI every two weeks, with a target delivery date for her baby of April 25. Her most recent scans show that she is currently cancer-free.
“We’re praying a lot and trusting God through these next few weeks to keep these scans clean,” Phil said.
Kim plans to begin treatment two weeks after the birth of her son in April.
[Photo by Carolyn Thompson/Associated Press]