I’m glad to be a part of this wonderful group of survivors. I’m wondering if I might be one of the longest-running on this journey, at 61.
At age 32, in 1990, I was diagnosed with stage 3+ adenocarcinoma of the stomach. At that time, the CDH1 genetic mutation my family carries was not yet discovered.
I had a radical partial gastrectomy… 80%, and endured 6 months of chemotherapy that brought me down to about 70 pounds. Having been told by the Cancer Hotline at Duke University that I had a 30% chance of an 18 month survival, I thought I was done for. But no. I found my new normal and determined to thrive. It was difficult, but I three babies that needed me.
In 2005, I had a recurrence that sent us all reeling. CDH1 mutation had been discovered in 2002. After my total gastrectomy at Duke I went through the testing process. Positive for CDH1. Capable of passing it to my three beautiful children. The two boys were negative, but Bethany was positive. Bethany has also recently joined and posted to this group.
We have several family members lost to this disease. We had a few that were carriers but never develop cancer. Several others are surviving post-gastrectomy, all because of knowledge and the research being done on this rare mutation.
Every day is not perfect. I have several little health issues I attribute to being stomach-less, but, hey! I am here! I am a grandmother three times over. I am still working every day as a media specialist with young children. I share my story, our story, with my students and anyone else that might need to hear it. Kids need to know that cancer is not always the end!
I am facing a double mastectomy soon because breast cancer is also a risk with this gene. I’m trying to buck up my courage to tackle that as well.
“Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is realizing that fear and doing a thing because it must be done.” ~ unknown
I look forward to reading more about each of your journeys and encouraging stories.
Kia Kaha! (Māori) Be strong in the face of challenge!
Lisa Foster England