Health Headlines: Young woman survives brain bleed caused by cancer treatment

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Published: Sep. 16, 2022 at 4:03 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - If being told she had cancer wasn’t bad enough, one young lady in the prime of her life was almost killed by the drugs used to save her.

Ali Bello believes being in the right place at the right time saved her life. She was 23 and living her dream - new job, great friends, and having a good time - until the unthinkable happened.

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

Ali was diagnosed with leukemia, and after a week of chemo, she developed a severe headache and vomiting.

A CAT scan showed bleeding in her brain.

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

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

Emergency medications didn’t reduce the pressure.

“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,” Jahromi said.

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

Ali had to relearn how to use the left side of her body, and after a number of weeks, she was able to get back on chemo. Now, two years later, 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, and my boxing, and all those things that I love,” Ali said.

“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,” Jahromi said.

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