Uterine cancer - Stage IV
This testimonial includes a description of this patient’s actual medical results. Those results may not be typical or expected for the particular disease type described in this testimonial. You should not expect to experience these results.
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Several years ago, I began having back pain. I tried chiropractic treatments, but there was no noticeable improvement, and by Christmas of 2011, just sitting in a chair was quite painful. Finally, I went to my family doctor who took an x-ray and diagnosed me with degenerative disc disease. One month later, I saw another doctor, who prescribed pain medication. Upon asking if physical therapy would be a good option for me, the doctor agreed that I should try it. After working a short while with the physical therapist, she said, “I don’t think your symptoms are caused by degenerative disc disease.”
Within a few weeks, I could no longer sit in my car for more than 15 minutes. One morning, I woke up with excruciating pain. I was sweating and vomiting, so I went to yet another doctor that afternoon. He asked me when my last Pap smear had been, and as I was 57 at the time, I said it had been a few years back. He wanted to do a CT scan to rule out appendicitis. Arranging for the scan took some time, and when it was finally done and interpreted, I received the correct diagnosis on April 26, 2012: endometrial cancer. They sent me immediately to the hospital, where the doctor informed me that my cancer was Stage IV, the most advanced.
Strangely, I wasn’t very worried. I just thought, “They’re doctors, they’ll fix it.” A few more weeks passed, by which point my pain had worsened and I could no longer sit up. I began radiation therapy, and a month later, in June, I had a full hysterectomy. One week later I was told that the cancer had metastasized into my lungs and bones.
Throughout this whole time, a friend of mine was strongly urging me to contact Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA). I decided there was no harm in having a second opinion. My husband Rusty and I called an Oncology Information Specialist who helped us understand our insurance benefits and coverage. In addition, the Travel department at CTCA® assisted with necessary arrangements. So after my surgery and before starting chemo, I headed off to CTCA in suburban Chicago.
A team effort
Rusty and I arrived at CTCA in early July 2012, only two days after our 37th wedding anniversary. The moment we walked through those doors, I knew I was staying.
I began five months of chemotherapy. Thanks to CTCA and the excellent integrative treatment I received, I felt surprisingly well through most of it, experiencing no nausea. My naturopathic oncology provider was there every step of the way, keeping her finger right on the pulse. Whenever my course of chemotherapy was changed, my other treatments were modified as needed. However, I was in the battle for my life, and my cancer, which had multiple tumors, was difficult and aggressive, fighting fiercely. Throughout the next few years, I was on a number of chemotherapy regimens. It seemed to me that the treatments would work for a while, and then I’d hear that I was showing signs of progression in the cancer, which would lead to other treatments and medication.
Beginning in June of 2014, I felt well again for nearly half a year. Then, that August, I began experiencing back pain and went to the local ER. To help relieve the pain and assist with cancer treatment, my CTCA gynecologic oncologist agreed that I could undergo radiation at a hospital close to my home. When I felt well enough to travel, I returned to CTCA for additional chemotherapy. Two months later, I learned from my doctors that they saw signs of suspicious activity in the pelvic node. My cancer was continuing to fight aggressively.
A new hope
At this point, it seemed obvious to me (and to my physicians) that I was not responding well to treatment and my options were dwindling. My gynecologic oncologist suggested that I undergo genomic testing. As I learned, genomic testing looks for specific genetic abnormalities in a tumor and with gene-mapping tests, and may open the door to additional treatment options targeted to a patient’s specific cancer. My doctor explained to me that my test came back showing that I might benefit from a targeted therapy. My understanding is that the way my cancer was acting and with my specific genetic mutation, it might respond better to this treatment that is used for some kidney cancers, even though I have endometrial cancer. That same month, I started the new targeted therapy and I saw an improvement.
Living with cancer, thanks to CTCA
Thanks to CTCA, for nearly two and a half years, I have felt I am living nearly pain-free. Sometimes I get a little muscle pain, but not in my back. I feel great, with no fatigue.
Unfortunately, this August (2017), I learned that the cancer has learned to outsmart the targeted therapy. My team has recommended five weeks of radiation, which I will begin shortly. Should radiation not help, my team believes that they have another back-up plan. While it may not always be easy, I am able to live with my cancer and have a relatively normal life.
Whenever I talk with someone who’s been diagnosed with cancer, I strongly encourage them to go to CTCA. Each time I go to CTCA, it’s like coming home. CTCA is truly an incredible place. They have taken all the worry out of everything for me and go the extra mile to accommodate you.