CCS, community helping in cancer fight

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Editor’s note: This is part of an ongoing series about Community Cancer Services to support Leadership Sandpoint’s “Got Gas” fundraiser. For more information please call (208) 255-2301 or email jess@communitycancerservices.org.

February 2011, I was diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer with metastis to the liver. The main tumor was attached to my pancreas and my liver was 90 percent tumors.

We found a doctor at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Dr. Edward Lin who took me on and against the odds put me on treatment that almost a year later I was on my way to remission. Unfortunately we found in August 2012 the cancer had mutated making my treatment not effective, the tumors in the liver began to grow back and some found in a lymph node below the liver.

Treatments have consisted of seven different forms of chemotherapy, oral and IV, experimental combination; surgeries removing tumors, my first in December 2011 when the main tumor was removed and September 2012 where a fast-growing tumor was removed off my liver and removal of a lymph node.

My doctors say my response to treatments the first time was medical journal history, having a second one is dumbfounding. This cancer is very rare, less than 1 percent globally, so there is not a lot of research, I have become the experiment. It is the same cancer Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, had so there has been a slight increase to exploration.

I respond well to chemo, my liver has fully regenerated itself, the battle now is to keep the cancer at bay. My tumors have also gone through the latest in cancer research of genomapping, called oncoplex, at the University of Washington. It maps your cell DNA to find where the mutation started in the cells resulting in cancer. It is very new, but what we can tell is that I am missing chromosome 13 which keeps your cells from dividing, hence making my cancer cells divide at seven times of a normal cancer cell. This has been a rollercoaster ride of keeping me in check

Going back and forth to Seattle waiting for scan and lab results. On my most recent trip, Dr. Lin is looking at putting me in my own medical trial on a new drug for colon cancer patients. Because my tumors have been mapped, he knows the cancer is on the same path as colon cancer, so we are hoping to see some progress. I remain hopeful, thriving on optimism and good ju-ju from all around me.

I consider myself a lucky cancer patient, my family, friends, co-workers, Coldwater Creek, and community have been so supportive. This was very apparent back in November when everyone came together to help with the “Kicking Cancer’s Ass Hoedown,” more than 500 friends, family and party-goers came out to support me, just a week after my first IV chemo treatment. It was one of the most amazing and heart-whelming experiences. I hope to continue this event to help someone who needs the financial and emotional support as I did.

Even though the word cancer entering your life is horrifying, in retrospect cancer entering my life has also been one of the most humbling and positive experiences, for that I am grateful. I am planning a trip to Brazil to visit John of God and experience his methods of spiritual healing. I want to exhaust all resources to fight this, Western, Eastern, conscience, unconscious, whatever it might be.

I hope to give back to cancer research by finding remission and hoping through the road I am traveling others can follow my treatment to give us all more time on this earth.

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