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How chemotherapy cancer treatment can rarely lead to brain bleeding

If being told you have cancer wasn’t bad enough, what if the drugs being used to save you almost kill you?

CHICAGO — If being told you have cancer wasn’t bad enough, what if the drugs being used to save you almost kill you? That’s what happened to one young lady in the prime of her life.  But she believes being in the right place at the right time saved her life.

Ali Bello was 23 and living her dream – new job, great friends, and just having a good time, until a series of unfortunate events took place.

“I got home one night and realized I had this pounding headache,” Ali recalls.

Ali was diagnosed with leukemia. After a week of chemo, Ali developed a severe headache with vomiting. A CAT scan showed bleeding in her brain.

She tells Ivanhoe, “I had just had my chemo treatment and I had thrown up in one of the bed pans and just was feeling super ill.”

“This was because of her cancer and the chemotherapy drugs given to try to cure her cancer,” explains Northwestern Medicine neurosurgeon, Babak Jahromi, MD.

Emergency medications didn’t reduce the pressure.

Dr. Jahromi explains, “Because the bleeding was so large, things spiraled out very, very quickly. She was sliding deeper into a coma to a point where she was near death.”

Ali almost died twice that night. Dr. Jahromi says he performed a skull flap surgery faster than he had ever done before, removing a large portion of Ali’s skull, making room for her brain to swell and hopefully recover without any more damage.

Ali had to relearn how to use her left side of her body and after several weeks, she was able to get back on chemo. Now, two years out, Ali is cancer free.

“I think it would just be great to get back my life and be able to do things on my own and get back to my running, my boxing, and all those things that I love,” Ali expresses.

Dr. Jahromi exclaims, “From someone who was at death’s doorstep to now being able to swim laps in a pool, despite her disability, is just a miracle.”

Due to her brain bleed, Ali is still recovering. She’s in occupational therapy, physical therapy, and works with a personal trainer three times a week — all with the end goal of getting back out there, living on her own.

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