Balancing a battle with cancer with parenthood

Nina Polvanich Louie is a 32-year-old new parent, experiencing all of the joys and responsibilities that come with raising a child.

But she is also in the middle of a lengthy battle with cancer, one that has left her with a 1-in-20,000 chance of finding a crucial bone marrow match for a transplant that doctors say has a solid likelihood of working.

Doctors declared that her first bout with cancer left the illness in remission, but in March, a routine scan uncovered a harrowing discovery:

Surgeons removed a piece of Nina’s skull to take a biopsy of the mass, which turned out to be lymphoma. They also found more cancer in her spine.

Doctors began giving Nina more chemotherapy and performing regular spinal taps, a process that can take 30 minutes and be excruciating.

She gets through it by thinking of Donny.

"I think about his 5th birthday, I think about his 10th birthday, I think when he’ll get married," Nina said. "I try to remember why I’m doing all of this."

Read more about Nina’s struggle to make the most of what may be her last moments with her son in our latest Column One feature.

You can also discover more info about how to become a bone marrow donor here, or head directly to

Photos: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

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    We’re doing miles upon miles in Nina’s honor today. Join us by logging your own Charity Miles for the Leukemia and...
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