I was 42-years-old when I was diagnosed. My husband and I have spent time hiking all over the United States. One day, we had been hiking the Buckeye Trail in Ohio, where we live. We had hiked a 15-mile stretch and I thought I pulled a muscle in my neck. The pain became so intense that I landed in the emergency room. After an evaluation of blood work, a CT scan, and an ultrasound the doctor came in. She announced I had multiple tumors in my liver and one on my colon. I said, “You’re crazy! I am here for my shoulder.”
The ER doctor asked us to follow up with our regular doctor, which we did the next day. A liver biopsy was completed and a colonoscopy. It was determined that I did in fact have colon cancer.
This all happened very fast. My husband and I decided, collectively, to search resources and headed to the Cleveland Clinic for treatment. We headed to Cleveland the Thursday after I was diagnosed. I was immediately placed in the care of Dr. Tracey Hull, colorectal surgeon, and Dr. Robert Pelley, clinical oncologist liver/colon specialist.
Genetic testing at Cleveland Clinic determined mutation for juvenile polyposis syndrome. Through my diagnosis my 39-year-old sister also learned she had colon cancer and had her colon removed, while my 69-year-old aunt also tested positive for the syndrome and her two sons were showen to be carriers.
I started with nine rounds of chemo, with scans done at three and six treatment points. My tumors began to shrink with the FOLFOXIRI combination of chemo. They shrank over 60% and some were even gone. After nine rounds, I was identified as a candidate for surgery. Dr. Christiano Quintini, a liver surgery specialist, and Dr. Hull decided to remove 70% of the colon. I would not need a colostomy because of the location of tumor. They also decided to remove tumors on the left lobe of my liver in the first surgery, and surgically embolize the right lobe of the liver to cause the left lobe to grow. This process took six hours with relatively few complications.
A second surgery removed the right lobe and took off the final tumor between the portal vein and the hepatic artery. The surgeon took a chance in order to get the entire tumor, the risk being that he could nick my diaphragm. This did occur and caused my lung to collapse. They inserted a chest tube and fixed the issue. During the second surgery they implanted a HAI pump in my abdomen to administer chemotherapy directly to my liver over the next six months. Currently all of the cancerous tumors have been removed from my body.
The most encouraging portion of the story is that through genetic testing we were able to determine my boys both have the genetic disposition. Through screening we found polyps that were pre-cancerous in one of our sons, the other had 14 polyps removed. Both have the genetic disposition I have. So through all of this we have saved lives!!! So, it’s a great story of HOPE!!!!!