Unlike other cancers such as lung, breast, or liver cancer, the appendiceal cancer I have is so rare that there is not a lot of research done on it. So, when I had surgery and HIPEC chemo on 2/18 to remove the visible cancer that was throughout my abdomen, I signed paperwork to allow the Research Department at Helen F. Graham Cancer Center to collect tissue samples to be used for study. I also signed paperwork allowing other cancer centers to have access to tissue samples so that they could study this cancer.
I recently found out that my medical oncologist (Dr. Evan Lapinsky) did something that is very encouraging to me. He sent a sample of my tumor to a precision medicine company for research and testing to look for a better way to treat my specific appendiceal cancer. Here is the “About” page for Strata Oncology (http://www.strataoncology.com/about). Strata Oncology states that they are not just looking for ways to treat cancer; they are looking for ways to cure cancer. I am hopeful that the tissue from my tumor that is going to other hospital research facilities and Strata Oncology will allow for a better treatment or even a cure to be found for this cancer someday that could help me as well as others.
On Tuesday, 4/6, I underwent surgery to have the chest port put into my chest which will be used to administer my chemo treatments. On Wednesday, 4/7, I began receiving my first chemo treatment. This chemo treatment lasted 6 hours. The oncology nurses sent me home with what I call a “to-go” bottle of chemo that slow released over two days. So far, I have not had any of the wild side effects they told me were possible. In fact, the only side effect I have had has been some fatigue. Thank you, Lord!
The infusion room at Helen Graham has rows of recliners and a wall of windows that overlooks a large, beautiful pond. Just below my first day primo window seat I noticed a mother goose sitting on her nest of eggs, preparing to bring new life into the world. This scene had a calming effect on my emotions while my first dose of chemo dripped into my chest port. The staff, who are all cheerful and positive try as hard as they can to make a difficult situation as pleasant as possible. However, I found most people get their treatments, and keep to themselves with a somber look on their faces. I am usually not an outgoing person and prefer to keep to myself. But, on this day, I decided to introduce myself to the person sitting next to me. I found that by keeping a cheerful, positive attitude it caused the person next to me to smile and talk. I plan to continue with this approach and should be able to meet new people each time I go for my chemo treatments.
To be completely honest when I was first diagnosed with cancer, I asked myself “why me?” … Why did I get cancer after all the years of living a healthy lifestyle and getting all the recommended cancer screenings? I do not know why God allowed this cancer into my life, but I do know that it has drawn me closer to God then I have ever been before. My tendency is to be a worrier, but I have had a feeling of peace throughout this experience that I feel could only come from trusting God in this situation in which I find myself and my family.
I believe that God is the answer to everything … including cancer … and in HIS time … I will be healed. I would like to ask you to please continue to pray for healing for me and for comfort for my family. Please pray for the doctors and their staff as they administer the chemo treatments that are working to eradicate the cancer from my body. And please pray for the researchers who are diligently and steadfastly looking for a cure for this little-known cancer … appendiceal cancer.