This Christmas season the family of 17-year-old Jenni Lake remembered the Pocatello, Idaho, teen for her sacrifice in refusing medical treatment for cancer so that the baby growing inside her would be born healthy and whole.
In October 2010, Jenni was diagnosed with grade-three brain cancer and given about two years to live. Doctors immediately began aggressive chemotherapy on the high school junior to slow down the advance of the cancer, and last March Jenni and her family got the hopeful news that the tumors on her brain and spine were shrinking.
But shortly afterward, when her boyfriend, Nathan, took her to the emergency room because she was throwing up, Jenni got some shocking news: she was pregnant. What made the revelation even more troubling to the teen was that her cancer treatment could prove fatal to the baby growing inside her.
“She was pretty scared, because the baby had been through two rounds of chemo from March and April and she was just about to start another round,” recalled Jenni’s mother, Diana Phillips.
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Photo: Nathan Wittman, 19, holds a photo of Jenni Lake, who died of cancer shortly after giving birth to their son, Chad Michael Lake Wittman, at the family's home in Pocatello, Idaho: AP Images