Jennifer Lake was an average 16 years old high school student in Idaho, when she received a devastating diagnosis. There were severe headaches and she felt that something was wrong. An MRI showed a tumor in her brain.
She became pregnant and made the decision to save her child for herself. She died after giving birth, and her story shook the hearts of the world. Jennifer Lake thought she had her whole life ahead of her. To the surprise of almost everyone, not so fast.
She was diagnosed with a stage three astrocytoma, a type of brain tumor. But that wasn’t the worst of it. A scan showed the tumor was larger than anyone realized and had spread to her spine without any outward symptoms. At that point, she had three tumors in her brain and three in her spine.
Her parents, who were divorced, attended a meeting with doctors to discuss her case and her chances of survival. She learned that she had to undergo chemotherapy and that she had no chance of recovery.
She had a 30 % chance of living another two years. Even if she survived, it was likely that the radiation would sterilize her. It was devastating for her and everyone around her. But the bad news didn’t end there.
Jennifer has set up a Youtube channel called Jenni’s Journey. Wanting to document her progress, she eventually posted three videos. A video released on November 20, 2010, shows Jennifer having lunch with her mother.
“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,” Jennifer said in the video.
Her boyfriend was Nathan Wittman, then 19. They had only been a couple for a few weeks, but it was their most recent relationship and had withstood some very adult and intense tests.
She was overjoyed, but it was short-lived. “We were told that she couldn’t get pregnant, so we didn’t worry about it,” he said.. But then she made the impossible decision.
The tumor began shrinking a few months ago, and the family hoped that she and her unborn baby could return home without chemotherapy. But when she stopped her treatment, she had little chance of surviving the diagnosis. She would have continued with chemotherapy and radiation, which could have killed her baby. Her life was over, as was that of her unborn child.
But they did not give up hope. Instead, Jennifer chose to have her baby. She stopped treatment and gave birth to a healthy boy nine months later.
When Lake was hospitalized after giving birth, she asked her nurse to come in and whispered to her, “I’m doing everything I can, I’ve done what I should be doing. My baby will be safe.” Later that day, the nurse repeated these words to her family when she received bad news.
Her decision to abstain from chemo proved fatal. Six days after giving birth, she went home to spend time with her baby. The tumor had spread and there was nothing that could be done. She died 12 days after giving birth, holding her baby in her arms. She has never regretted her decision.
Their story continues to inspire today. Her choice is an incredible example of the powerful love a mother can have for her children. It is indescribable and her love for Chad is still palpable and audible through her sacrifice.
Jennifer’s family, along with Nathan, shared their story with hundreds of thousands of people on social media. The family maintains that Jennifer’s story is not a story of tragedy or sacrifice. They tell him about his mother and what she has done for him. Chad is now nine years old and is being raised by Nathan with the help of the family that has been there for him since his mother’s death.