Woman’s Body Cut in Half to Treat Aggressive Cancer

A Canadian woman is the first patient to undergo an operation in which doctors cut her body in half to remove a tumor—and survive.

Janis Ollson, 31, was pregnant with her second child and doctors assumed her intense back pain was just a typical symptom of pregnancy. But it wasn’t long until she was diagnosed with bone cancer that was untreatable by chemotherapy or radiation, The Winnipeg Free Press reported.

The Manitoba mother was told by experts in Toronto they would have to cut her body in half by removing her leg, lower spine and half of her pelvis—a surgery that had only been performed on cadavers, which meant successfully putting her back together again was a huge risk.

Doctors compared the tumor to the size of a calzone, and said it was the biggest they had ever seen.

"The plan was to remove the tumor, splitting my pelvis in half and removing the left half and left leg and lower spine," Ollson told the newspaper.

With help from the Mayo Clinic, Ollson became the first person to ever receive a “pogo stick” rebuild. She has one leg fused to her body and one prosthetic leg, along with a prosthetic pelvis.
Ollson is determined to live a normal life after her groundbreaking operation, and is now cancer-free. She uses a wheelchair, a walker or crutches, but is not afraid to move around, however she can.

"I have no problem getting around. If I need to, I'll crawl (up stairs) or scooch like a kid," she said. "I don't want people to think 'we can't invite the Ollsons because they can't get in here with a wheelchair.' I want to live life to its fullest," she said.

Click here to read more from The Winnipeg Free Press.