Stella’s journey started about 6 months ago when she had unexplainable abdominal pain. Various tests, CT and MRI scans, and endoscopic procedures discovered a duodenal ulcer (an ulcer in the lining of the first portion of her small intestine). She was prescribed medications to help heal the ulcer but after months of treatment with no improvement nor symptom relief, another endoscopy was conducted. Results by both imaging and biopsy remained inconclusive.
On December 21st, Stella had an additional endoscopy with greater capabilities to better visualize her intestines. This endoscopy was intended to be a quick procedure in an outpatient office after which she could return home. However, imaging found not only active bleeding from the ulcer but also excessive tissue growth in her small intestine, which was inhibiting her prescribed medication treatments from reaching they ulcer to heal it. During the procedure, her gastroenterologist placed a stent to open her small intestine and further biopsied the ulcer. He also decided to immediately admit her to Long Beach Memorial Medical Center to monitor her bleeding and wait until the biopsy results came back to show what was causing the ulcer.
The biopsy results came back conclusively for small intestine cancer, an extremely rare type of cancer that only occurs in 1% of all cancers. On December 23rd, she was discharged home from the hospital.
Treatment most likely will include a ‘Whipple’ procedure to remove her gall bladder and parts of her small intestine and pancreas before reconnecting her intestinal tract. After this surgery, treatment will probably include radiation and/or chemotherapy which would most likely be done at her oncologist’s outpatient office once a week for a 6 month period.
On December 27th, a PET scan was completed, and based on these results, the oncologist, internal medical doctor, and surgeon will develop an individualized treatment plan for Stella.