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Jun 26, 2018 Latest post:
Jul 14, 2018
Lisa's journey began 2 years ago, with an unexpected finding of a large right ovarian tumor, ultimately resulting in 4 surgeries over the course of 6 weeks during the summer of 2016, removing her right ovary, tube, and eventually her spleen due to lesions which were determined not to be cancerous in the spleen. At that time the ovarian condition was diagnosed as Borderline Low Grade Serous Ovarian Epithelial Carcinoma, Stage 3A, meaning cancer was present all throughout her abdominal cavity on the surface of the tissues only, but in 95% of the cases does not progress any further and close monitoring was required but no chemotherapy or other treatments were required at that time for the cancer. Low grade, means is is slow growing.
Every 3 months since, Lisa has followed up with her Gyn Oncologist for blood testing, check-ups and imaging as needed. In April, at her regularly scheduled check-up, it was noted that Lisa had not been feeling her best and it was decided to be cautious and obtain a CT scan, just to make sure everything was ok. The results were surprising in that a new tumor was determined to be involving her left ovary. With much careful thought and difficult decisions, Lisa and her medical team determined the best course was to move forward with a complete hysterectomy, as child bearing was truly no longer an option. While the surgery went well, and on first appearance, it did not seem that the cancer had progressed, within a few days, Lisa was notified by her medical team that the cancer was no longer borderline, and had become invasive when reviewed by the pathologists. This was a life changing phone call, which has resulted in weeks of further testing, consults, second opinions, endless research and truly difficult life decisions for Lisa.
Because this specific cancer is very rare, research is limited, however there has been significant progress over the last ten years. The single most important step to increasing survival with this cancer is undergoing aggressive de-bulking surgery to be able to remove any palpable nodules, visible tumors, and potentially any affected portions of abdominal organs such as parts of the intestines, stomach, liver, and bladder (for which we are praying Lisa does not have to endure). Lisa's case was accepted at the Rare Gynelogical Cancer Center at John Hopkins University by one of 2 esteemed experts in the country on this specific cancer. Through her consultation and collaboration with her medical teams from both Hopkins and Rochester, it was uniformly decided that the next step was to undergo this intensive surgery at Hopkins, and is scheduled for 6/27/18. She will have to stay in the area until cleared to travel back to Rochester, likely for 6-8 weeks. This also "re-starts the clock" on any additional therapies, as she will have to be completely healed from this invasive surgery prior to pursuing chemotherapy. A plus to this surgery is that it will provide additional information from the tissue samples to best plan for subsequent therapy that will best target the specific subset of cancer Lisa has, the second most important factor to increasing time of survival. At this time this cancer has no cure, as it is known to be a micro-metastatic disease which with the currently available treatments, are unable to eliminate all cancer cells. With that being said, depending on the pathology results and recommended treatments, there are many patient's who are not having any evidence of disease for greater than 5 years, and in many cases up to or greater than 10 years. This is key, as more advancements are made in cancer treatments, it is a matter of buying time until a true cure is available. This means however, Lisa will not only have a very difficult battle for the next 6-8 months, with many potential side effects, but she will be ultimately be battling a chronic cancer and have to be on long term maintenance therapy to try to prevent growth of any remaining cancer cells.
Lisa i a first year resident in Emergency Medicine at the University of Rochester in NY. Her passion has always beed to help people in need, with over 15 years of service in EMS as a Critical Paramedic and now as a physician herself. It has been difficult, to say the least, for her to find herself on the the other side, having to traverse the very same challenges all of her patients face on a daily basis. She has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from her extended family, work family at the University of Rochester, her expansive EMS family in Rochester and many other lifelong friends. With this support her spirits remain high and her drive to fight this disease, as she has overcome so many obstacles, is unwavering, as anyone who is close with Lisa would understand.
While undergoing this additional surgery and the immediate chemotherapy, Lisa has been forced to take an extended leave from her residency, to be able to focus solely on her health, healing and enduring these necessary treatments. Her GoFundMe campaign has been running strong, and we are hopeful for the continued future support to be able to help with the financial burden of increased medical costs, travel, lodging, meals, and many other unexpected costs that will continue to arise throughout this process. Sharing her story widely will continue to drive the support she needs as this journey continues. The link to her campaign is available under the "Ways to Help" button located just above on this webpage.
Her journey throughout treatment and recovery can be followed here. She truly appreciates your continuous love, support, and prayers.
If you have interest in offering support in other ways, please reach out to Lisa's family through her sister Katie @ firstname.lastname@example.org, or through the contacts available in future journal entries and calendar under "Ways to Help".