Teen Sacrifices Herself To Birth Son, But Leaves Final Message With The Nurse

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A mother’s love for her children is unlike any other. After all their child is a piece of them that they carry inside of them for nine-month. They say that the moment a woman becomes a mother, her child’s life becomes more important than her own.

That’s why when Jenni Lake had to chose between her own life and her baby’s just a few months before her 18th birthday, it felt like a no-brainer. But she wasn’t about to leave without speaking her peace. While in the hospital, she pulled the nurse down and whispered a message in her to be delivered to comfort her family when she’s gone.

A Migraine That Changed Lives

Jenni Lake was just your typical high school sophomore until she started experiencing terrible migraines. When her parents finally took her to get checked out, an MRI scan revealed the worse news any family could hear….she had a growing mass on the right side of her brain.

Unfortunately, the situation wasn’t looking good. Even having both her divorced parents by her side Jenni couldn’t help but ask the doctor: “Jenni just flat out asked them if she was going to die,” said her father.

Stage 3 Brain Tumor

A couple of days later Jenni was diagnosed with stage three brain tumors and three other ones on her spine. This was a very rare kind of cancer as it had spread through her body without symptoms.

doctor looking at scan of brains
National Cancer Institute / Unsplash
National Cancer Institute / Unsplash

Despite being hopeful, the doctors didn’t have good news. They told the teen that even with treatment she had a 30 percent chance to make it two years. Jenni took the news bravely: “She didn’t break down and cry or anything,” explains her heartbroken dad. Not until she realized she might never be able to have children. Her mother explains: “When they told her that she might not be able to have kids, she got upset.”

Hopeful Signs Of Improvements

Jenni started her radiation treatments as well as chemotherapy. Things were looking up, her health seemed to be getting better. In fact, she was even able to make it to her school prom.

jenni and boyfriend at prom smiling
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Despite having lost her hair, she modeled a beautiful blue dress, silver headband and posed lovingly with her boyfriend. She was smiling again and making hopeful plans for the future. She ignored any rumors that her boyfriend only stayed with her because she was sick and the two planned to open up a restaurant together.

But fate had other plans for Jenni. Jenni relapsed.

From One Battle To Two

Jenni’s returning Cancer wasn’t her only concern. Her symptoms seemed worse this time around as she had been throwing up a lot and had sharp stomach pains. A trip to ER wound up with Jenni in tears. “We could hear Jenni just bawling in her room,” said her sister.

young couple poses for picture before Jenni's passing
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Facebook

Jenni had just learned that she was 10 weeks pregnant. Her recovery journey was no longer her own as there were now two lives at stake. This would completely unexpected for Jenni who was first told she could never have children as the radiation from chemo would make her sterile. It was a miracle.

Two Lives, But Only One Can Go On

Now Jenni, who was not even her own adult yet had to make a tough choice, to save her life or her child’s. Her mother recalls: He told us that if she’s pregnant, she can’t continue the treatments. So she would either have to terminate the pregnancy and continue the treatments, or stop the treatments, knowing that it could continue to grow again.”

The choice seemed clear for Jenni, she would stop the chemo so that she could carry her child. Her family understood that this choice could be fatal but they hoped that just like the tumors had shrunk before, maybe Jenni could return to treatment once the baby was born.

A Moment Of Weakness

Jenni did her best to put up a tough front for herself and her family, but the reality of her situation was devasting.

Documenting her journey she confided in a video: “Last night, like, I was just lying in bed and I was thinking about everything that was going on and it just like, it just hit me, like everything, and I don’t know, it made me cry…It’s hard. It’s like, I don’t know how long this is going to last and I just want it to go away… I feel like this is holding me back from so much…”

A Final Message Left With The Nurse

The months went by and despite getting herself sicker, Jenni gave birth to a healthy baby boy. She only weighed 108 pounds. The baby’s rosy cheeks contrasted with his mother’s pale ones

Boyfriend: Nathan Wittman, 19, holds a photo of his late girlfriend who died of cancer shortly after giving birth to their son who he now has full custody over
AP Photo/James B. Hale
AP Photo/James B. Hale

Despite only being 18 she would never grow up herself, let alone watch her child grow up. As the doctors wheeled her into the hospital, she pulled the nurse dow and whispered into her ear. She said to the nurse,”I’m done, I did what I was supposed to. My baby is going to get here safe.” The nurse later relayed the words of the teen to comfort her family.”

The Final 12 Days

Jenni laid in her hospital bed post-birth with no regrets. She knew her pregnancy had made her weaker and had stripped her chances of survival. She was starting to lose her vision and the cancer had taken over.

Distraught: Diana Phillips, Jenni Lake's mother, cries while holding her son as she remembers how strong she was throughout her lengthy battle with cancer
AP Photo/James B. Hale
AP Photo/James B. Hale

It was only 12 days past the birth , half spent in the hospital and the other half at home, before Jenni was gone. She had sacrificed herself for her child.

Sacrifice Not Tragedy

Jenni’s family was proud of the legacy she left behind, looking at it as a sacrifice and not a tragedy. They plan to tell the child about how his mom became his hero before she passed as he grows up.

Jenni Lake's family, from left, father Mike Lake, sister Kaisee Lake, boyfriend Nathan Wittman, mother Diana Phillip with Jenni's newborn son Chad Michael Lake Wittman, and sister Ashley Lake pose for a portrait in Pocatello, Idaho on Dec. 6, 2011.
AP Photo/James B. Hale
AP Photo/James B. Hale

Diana, holding her grandchild states: I want him to know everything about her, and what she did.” She hopes to tell him about Jenni’s laugh and rebellious nature, and the person she was once before sickness took over.

Jenni’s Last Words

The child now goes by the name Chad Michael. Before she left, Jenni had stated, “Nathan will raise him”. When the baby was born and placed before her for the final time, she whispered, “I can kind of see him.”

Jenni Lake's baby drinking milk
AP Photo/James B. Hale
AP Photo/James B. Hale

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