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Woman "cut in two" to survive cancer

Bryan Alaspa's picture

Janis Ollson is a woman willing to do whatever it takes to survive for her family. It was revealed, this week, as Ollson appeared on various news programs and showed her survival to the world, that she underwent radical surgery to save herself from bone cancer. The surgery removed one of her legs and, literally, cut her in two and put her back together.

It was in 2007 when doctors discovered why Ollson was experiencing so much pain while pregnant with her daughter, Braxtyn. She had experienced pain with her first child, as well, but the doctors had assured her that she was just having a difficult pregnancy. With her second child she was told this as well, but Ollson kept visiting specialists until they found a hand-sized tumor growing on her left pelvic bone.

She faced a painful choice. She could undergo radical surgery that had only, up until then, been done on cadavers, or she could die from the cancer. Ollson decided to do whatever needed to be done to survive. The doctors in Manitoba checked with doctors in the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and began practicing the surgery on cadavers. They did not tell Ollson exactly what she would be enduring until roughly two weeks before the surgery.

Ollson, meanwhile, had delivered her daughter safely via Cesarean Section. The baby was a little early, but healthy. Now Ollson had to survive the surgery.

The surgery involved over 20 hours of work on the operating table. The first step was to remove her left leg and, thus, remove the cancer. The operation also removed the left portion of her pelvic bone. The doctor then removed her tailbone and part of her lower spine. With that done, the doctors took part of a pone from her removed leg, turned it upside down and then re-attached the remaining part of her pelvis to what remained of her spine via the piece of bone.

Ollson took a long time to recover. However, as she revealed on various news program this week, she was able to walk down the aisle via crutches and a prosthetic leg, when her and her husband renewed their vows. She rides snow mobiles around her home. She uses a wheelchair to get around at home, but also uses crutches and her prosthesis when she needs to.

Since the operation was performed in 2007 the Mayo Clinic has named the operation a “pogo stick rebuild.” Three other patients have undergone the surgery but only one of those has survived.

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