Childhood cancer survivor grew to adulthood, but rare second form struck just months after daughter’s birth

Kaylanna Lipinski couldn’t beat cancer a second time, but she made a lasting impression on everyone around her with her approach to life and, ultimately, death itself.

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Gina Bishop will always remember the lack of self-compassion shown by Kaylanna Lipinski, despite being dealt a cruel hand in life not once but twice.

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“She never once said ‘why me? said Bishop, a close family friend whose daughter, Parisa, was best friends with the 19-year-old.

“Not once did he post a post (on social media) that he had cancer. She always thought of others, she was very kind, she always needed us to be okay”.

Kaylanna survived a rare childhood cancer as a preschooler, grew to adulthood and experienced the limitless joy of motherhood and the love of a large blended family and many friends.

“She taught me how important it was to say I love you and not just show it with actions, which is what I used to do,” Bishop said.

Five-year-old Kaylanna Lipinski, right, with her sister Ariel Wagner, 3, at their home in Pitt Meadows on March 15, 2008.
Five-year-old Kaylanna Lipinski, right, with her sister Ariel Wagner, 3, at their home in Pitt Meadows on March 15, 2008. Photo by Ric Ernst /PROVINCE

Kaylanna battled a rare stomach cancer called embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma that attacked her reproductive system when she was five years old.

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After a year of chemotherapy for stomach cancer that only affects children, Kaylanna spent months in Boston to receive proton radiation therapy 15 minutes a day, a treatment that was not available in Canada in 2008.

“After that, everything went well and she turned out to be a perfectly healthy, beautiful little lady,” said her father, Chris Lipinski, who works in construction in Calgary, where he lives with his second wife, Mandy, and their daughter, Aliyah.

Fourteen years later, after beating cancer, Kaylanna gave birth to her daughter Valentina on October 18, nine months after Valentine’s Day.

Three months later, however, she was hospitalized with jaundice, and a month later was diagnosed with another rare form of kidney cancer that had spread to her other organs, always a possible result of childhood radiation treatments, Lipinski said.

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After weeks of various treatments failing, Kaylanna was told on May 25 that she only had a month or two to live.

Arrived on July 25. Kaylanna was only 19 years old and the girl she had with her partner Ethan Valchos was only nine months old.

Kaylanna Lipinski with her baby Valentina.  Lipinski, who survived a rare cancer when he was five years old, developed jaundice three months after Valentina's birth, in October 2021. At the hospital, doctors discovered that he had a different rare kidney cancer.  It had spread to his liver and other parts of his body and treatment was unsuccessful.  He died at age 19, on July 25.  Photo: Mike Morris.
Kaylanna Lipinski with her baby Valentina. Lipinski, who survived a rare cancer when he was five years old, developed jaundice three months after Valentina’s birth, in October 2021. At the hospital, doctors discovered that he had a different rare kidney cancer. It had spread to his liver and other parts of his body and treatment was unsuccessful. He died at age 19, on July 25. Photo: Mike Morris. Photo by Mike Morris /jpg

Kaylanna had been told many times that the chances of her ever getting pregnant had decreased due to the radiation treatments she received as a child.

“The good thing was that she was able to get pregnant, that was a blessing,” Lipinski said. “She always wanted to be a mom. (Valentina) was a miracle baby.”

Chris and Mandy’s wedding was delayed twice due to COVID-19, eventually moving to 2023. But instead, they held a smaller wedding at Maple Ridge on June 25 just so Kaylanna could be there, Lipinski said. .

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“He found the strength to walk my wife down the aisle,” he said. “She always thought of everyone else instead of herself, even when she was suffering.”

Kaylanna was staying at Canuck Place Children’s Hospice at the time, and “we didn’t know until right now if she would be able to attend (the wedding),” Bishop said.

It was close to the time they would have to leave “when she said to me: ‘You can plug in my hair straightener’”.

Two weeks before the wedding, Kaylanna had the opportunity to celebrate the Maple Ridge High School graduation that she missed out on in 2021 when it was canceled due to COVID. She was granted permission to attend the MRSS 2022 graduation ceremony and dinner with Parisa. The Cinderella Project, which lends donated formal wear to graduates, provided a strapless white gown.

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Her wrist corsage covered her IV port.

“She was really looking forward to graduating,” said Bishop, who attended with her and Parisa in case Kaylanna needed support. “Every 10 minutes we had to sit in the lobby” in order to conserve energy.

After dinner, instead of going to the dry prom, he went home to Canuck Place early.

Kaylanna spent her last two weeks there and Valentina was brought in every three days so she could hold and feed her.

“I can’t tell you how much I loved that girl,” Bishop said.

Before she died, Kaylanna was able to do two things she wanted to do as a mother and for herself: take her daughter to get her ears pierced and get a tattoo.

He had Valentina tattooed on his forearm. “It was so beautiful and the dot was a heart,” Bishop said.

In her final days, Kaylanna was surrounded by the love of those close to her, playing board games like Operation and Connect 4. The last things she enjoyed were her favorite Skittles and sips of hot chocolate.

Although heavily sedated, she opened her eyes and sat up whenever she heard her daughter’s name.

And all along, “There was never a problem for me, what I went through, never,” Bishop said.

A Go Fund Me Account to raise money to help pay for Valentina’s funeral and upbringing.

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