At a routine prenatal appointment in March of 2019 my liver function tests came back elevated. My doctors thought that I was experiencing atypical preeclampsia and ordered an ultrasound on my liver as a precaution. That ultrasound showed a mass, which I would later come to find out was one of six liver metastases. Initially, they thought it was a hemangioma (a cluster of blood vessels), however, they induced my daughter early in order to run additional tests. Within 36 hours of her birth, I had an MRI, CT, repeat ultrasound and liver biopsy. It wasn’t until the liver biopsy results came back did we realize that it was colon cancer.
I was 29 years old and had no family history of colon cancer, or any cancer for that matter.
My local oncologist deemed my liver metastases too extensive for surgery and said that chemo could possibly extend my life. Needless to say, my world fell apart around me. I didn’t think that I would see my kids walk, say their first words, start school, or even remember me.
I immediately knew I had to seek out a second opinion and found Dr. Sapisochin’s trial for the living donor liver transplant for stage 4 colon cancer. I met with Dr. Sapisochin regularly over the course of a year while completing chemotherapy at Princess Margaret under the care of Dr. Chen. One year following my diagnosis, my liver mets shrunk enough to not require liver transplant but to complete a two stage liver resection (ALPPS). After that surgery I became cancer free.
I spent the summer of 2020 living my life to the fullest. I took my kids to local parks and beaches, exploring the wilderness outside our home in northern Ontario. Despite being free of visible cancer, there was always a fear in the back of my mind that it would return. In November, it did. During a routine CT scan three nodules were found in my lungs.
My world began to crumble again, and this time I knew I needed help. I had known about Filomena and CCRAN from other patients but had never felt the need to reach out. This time I did. Filomena helped me navigate my care, speaking with a thoracic surgeon, giving me questions to ask, information on upcoming trials, and the knowledge on how to navigate the next steps in this journey.
By summer of 2021 I had my VATS resection on 3 lung metastases, but today 4 metastases remain. I speak to Filomena regularly providing her updates on where things are in my treatment, and she in turn provides me with support, feedback, and information on how I can best move forward. I hope to get back into surgery for my remaining metastases, but for now, I’m at Princess Margaret every other week for chemo. I believe it is the best place to be for me. While the side effects from both chemotherapy and multiple surgeries are present, I still care for and play with my kids, I got to hear those first words, see the first steps, and watch them grow. I’m grateful for everyone on my medical team, Filomena, and all of the staff at CCRAN for that opportunity. My journey isn’t over, I’m not currently cancer free, but hope to be once again. Until then I take it one treatment at a time and enjoy the time between as much as possible. My motto is: NEVER GIVE UP HOPE!