Chemo-Induced Brain Bleed


CHICAGO, Ill. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – If being told you have cancer wasn’t bad enough, what if the drugs being used to save you almost kill you? That’s what happened to one young lady in the prime of her life.  But she believes being in the right place at the right time saved her life. Chemo-Induced Brain Bleed

Ali Bello was 23 and living her dream – new job, great friends, and just having a good time, until a series of unfortunate events took place.

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

Ali was diagnosed with leukemia. After a week of chemo, Ali developed a severe headache with vomiting. A CAT scan showed bleeding in her brain.

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

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

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Emergency medications didn’t reduce the pressure.

Dr. Jahromi explains, “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.”

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

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

Dr. Jahromi exclaims, “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.”

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

Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer & Editor.

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REPORT:       MB #5116

BACKGROUND: A brain hemorrhage is a type of stroke. It’s caused by an artery in the brain bursting and causing localized bleeding in the surrounding tissues. This bleeding kills brain cells. Brain hemorrhages are also called cerebral hemorrhages, intracranial hemorrhages, or intracerebral hemorrhages. They account for about 13% of strokes.  The 30-day mortality rate ranges from 35% to 52% with only 20% of survivors expected to have full functional recovery at six months.


DIAGNOSING: Symptoms of a brain hemorrhage depend on the area of the brain involved. In general, symptoms of brain bleeds can include sudden tingling, weakness, numbness, or paralysis of the face, arm or leg, particularly on one side of the body, headache, nausea and vomiting, seizures, difficulty swallowing, and trouble breathing and abnormal heart rate. A doctor will examine you immediately if any type of brain hemorrhage is suspected. Diagnosis is usually made based on the results of an evaluation of physical symptoms, CT scan, MRI, or MRA.


NEW TECHNOLOGY: Endovascular embolization is a minimally invasive procedure that essentially enables a neurosurgeon to treat subdural hematomas safely and effectively – a type of brain bleed located between the outside of the brain and the covering of the brain – without open brain surgery. Instead, a catheter is inserted in a large blood vessel at the top of a patient’s leg and navigated up into the blood vessels in the head. Through that catheter, microscopic particles called embospheres are delivered to stop the bleeding. Once that happens, the brain and the body can begin to heal.



Megan McCann

(312) 926-5900

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at

Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Dr. Babak Jahromi, MD, a neurosurgeon

Read the entire Q&A