Lizzie’s lungs: New mother with lung cancer spreads hopeful story

June 1, 2016

Elizabeth Dessureault (middle, with son Jack) has benefitted from various cancer treatment options thanks to excellent care and research at The Ottawa Hospital. Michelle McWilliam (left) and Kendra Christink (right) are both clinical trial coordinators who helped Dessureault through the process.

As a healthy, non-smoking, 26-year-old with a baby on the way, cancer was the last thing Elizabeth Dessureault was worried about. But in April 2015, five months into her pregnancy, her world was turned upside down by a diagnosis of advanced lung cancer.

“As a music teacher and singer, I’ve always thought of my lungs as being such an important part of who I am,” said Dessureault. “But with cancer, my lungs would have to take on an entirely new challenge.”

Living in Alberta at the time, she and husband Dax decided to move to Ottawa to be closer to family in Cornwall. Dessureault immediately began treatment at The Ottawa Hospital Cancer Centre.

Oncologist Dr. Scott Laurie prescribed a type of chemotherapy that would keep her cancer at bay without harming the baby, and Dessureault gave birth to a healthy boy, Jack, on June 30.

More good news came a few weeks later when Dessureault learned that her cancer had a rare genetic mutation that made her eligible for a promising new treatment. Over the next six months, the tumour in her lung shrank by more than 50 percent.

Although her cancer eventually stopped responding to that drug, she is now participating in a clinical trial of another new treatment.

“Every new treatment plan gives me hope,” she said. “I’ve always believed that I can fight this and I know that Dr. Laurie believes in me just as much as I believe in myself.”

Throughout this process, Dessureault has shared her story on her blog, from lizzie’s lungs, which recently made a list of the Top 10 Best Lung Cancer Blogs of 2016. She has also spoken publicly at many events and in the media.

“When thrown into a negative situation, I try to find the positive,” said Dessureault. “When I was first diagnosed, I would Google cancer survivors’ stories and they gave me so much hope. I wanted to do the same for others.”

Dessureault is incredibly thankful for the care she has received and she recently presented Dr. Laurie and two clinical research coordinators, Kendra Christink and Michelle McWilliam, with Guardian Angel pins to thank them for their work.

“It is not easy to navigate through the clinical trial process, but they helped me every step of the way and made me feel more comfortable,” said Dessureault. “I can’t thank them enough, as well as Dr. Laurie.”

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Jennifer Ganton
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