Monday, January 9, 2012

A Sacrifice of Love

I came across this touching story just after Christmas and wanted to share it with you. Sometimes it isn't what we take from life, but what we give.

Pocatello, Idaho - Jenni Lake gave birth to a baby boy the month before her 18th birthday, though she was not destined to become just another teenage mother. That much, she knew.

While being admitted to the hospital, she pulled her nurse down to her at bed level and whispered into her ear. The nurse would later repeat the girl's words to comfort her family, as their worst fears were realized a day after Jenni's baby was born.

"She told the nurse, 'I'm done, I did what I was supposed to. My baby is going to get here safe,'" said Diana Phillips, Jenni's mother.

In photographs, the baby's ruddy cheeks and healthy weight offer a stark contrast to the frail girl who gave birth to him. She holds the newborn tightly, kissing the top of his head. Jenni, at 5 feet and 4 inches tall, weighed only 108 pounds at the full term of her pregnancy.

The migranes started last year, when Jenni was a 16-year-old sophomore at Pocatello High School. She was taken to the family doctor, and an MRI scan found a small mass measuring about two centimeters wide on the right side of her brain. She was diagnosed with stage three astrocytomas brain cancer in October 2010. With three tumors on her brain and three on her spine, Jenni was told her case was rare because the cancer had spread from her brain to another part of her body with no symptoms.

In a picture taken at her prom in early May 2011, Jenni wore a dark blue strapless dress and gave the camera a small smile. There was a silver headband in her hair, which was less than an inch long. Chemotherepy took her shoulder-length blond tresses. Her boyfriend, Nathan cradles her from behind.

Jenni started dating Nathan a couple of weeks before she received her diagnosis. Their adolescent relationship withstood the very adult test posed by cancer, the treatments that left her barely able to walk from her living room to her bedroom, and the gossip at school.

Having been told she would probably become sterile from the cancer treatments, Jennis discovered she was pregnant and her journey was no longer her own. She was informed by the doctor to discontinue treatments or terminate the pregnancy and continue treatments. There was no discussion about which path Jenni would choose. She discontinued treatment.

Jenni didn't show regret for her decision, not in the final weeks of her pregnancy as she grew weaker, and not when she started to lose her vision as the cancer took its course. Jenni and Nathan named the baby Chad Michael. Jenni's last words were about her son as he was placed beside her a final time. As she felt for the baby, she said: "I can kind of see him."

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