Officially 10 years NED as of today. I wanted to post my story for those new to the board. When I was first diagnosed all I wanted to read were survival stories. I knew that it didn't necessarily mean I would survive long-term but the possibility and knowing that others had was so important to me. I would say that now I hardly think of cancer and it will be days before the thought crosses my mind. But, not a day goes by that I don't give thanks and gratitude for the life I am so blessed to live...
Here is the story I posted on my FB wall letting friends and family know about my diagnosis in the hope that I would bring awareness to the disease. We didn't tell our children about my illness until this past year so not many of my friends know that I had been ill.
This community was so important to during that first year of illness. I hope that this post gives you hope if you are looking for it, as I was so many years ago....
"It was during Katie’s caesarean birth 10 years ago today that we first discovered I had colon cancer. It wasn’t until 6 days later on my own birthday that we learned that my cancer had metastasized and I had 5 tumors across my liver. American Cancer Society survival rates for my Stage IV cancer were 8% at 5 years and during an initial consult with a local oncologist I was told that I would probably have 22-24 months to live. Nothing in my life before or since compares to the devastation I felt in that moment when I heard that prognosis.
My husband’s cousin, a gastroenterologist, quickly secured an appointment for me with a different doctor, a renowned oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering. This doctor specialized in a special chemotherapy pump called an Hepatic Arterial Infusion pump and her method was achieving longer than average survival rates. She told me that she would treat me and that hopefully I would respond to traditional chemotherapy and be able to have this HAI pump implanted in the future. Four days before Thanksgiving 2008 I started my first systemic (traditional chemo) treatment.
Systemic chemotherapy (especially the platinum-based drug that I was receiving) was no picnic. I suffered the usual side effects from the treatment but asked my doctor to give me the maximum possible dose. After 4 bi-weekly treatments a CT scan confirmed that the chemotherapy was working and my liver tumors were responding to the treatment and I would be eligible for surgery.
Nine days later on February 20, 2009 during a 9-hour surgery I had 12 inches of my colon, 42 lymph nodes, 40% of my liver and my gallbladder removed. Additionally, I had an HAI pump implanted into my abdomen. I had 30 staples up and down my mid-section and a side incision where they had placed my pump. Before the surgery I had been marked by an ostomy nurse where the doctor would place a colostomy if necessitated by surgery. The first memory I have after waking up is feeling my mid-section to find out if I had, in fact, had a colostomy placed. I was relieved to discover that I did not as it would be one less thing I would have to deal with during my recovery.
After my wounds healed I started up my chemotherapy treatments again, alternating between systemic chemo and chemo injections into my HAI pump. This pump, routed to the hepatic artery, allowed for a very concentrated dosage of chemo to profuse the entirety of my liver (which re-generated after 6 weeks). During my 7th chemo treatment I experienced severe anaphylaxis and had cardiac arrest. Electric paddles and 2 doses of epinephrine revived me and I found myself in a cardiac unit for 2 days as doctors monitored my heart to determine whether I had permanent cardiac damage (I did not).
Finally, on November 2, 2009, almost one year to the date of my diagnosis, I completed my last chemotherapy treatment. Throughout the past nine years since then life has been full of blood tests, CT scans, and follow-up MRIs and ultrasounds on suspicious spots here and there. But, through the grace of God and by the hands of three amazing doctors, I have remained in remission from my disease. I have been truly blessed. On October 2, 2018 I finally had my HAI pump removed and heard my surgeon tell me that he considered me cured."
CC discovered during c-section (11/4/08)
Diagnosed Stage IV 11/10/08 -- Happy 39th Birthday! 5 bilobar liver mets
02/09: Colectomy, liver resection, HAI pump implanted, 7 of 42 nodes
7 months of FUDR and 5FU ended 11/2/09
10 years NED.