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Katharine’s Story (Peritoneal Cancer)

katherines-story-peritoneal-cancerI started to notice weight gain about a year before my diagnosis, which was April 23 2019. I was 42 years old at the time. I was bloated, wasn’t able to defecate, not able to burp or even pass gas, I would also speak and often lose my breath within seconds of talking. I was so uncomfortable as I was extremely bloated. I ended up going to the Emergency room because I vomited and noticed what looked like pepper or coffee grounds; I remember reading something about that so I called the ER and she recommended I come in immediately. When I arrived I went in and they did a CT scan and about an hour later the doctor walked in and informed me that he believed I had late stage primary peritoneal cancer that metastasized.

When I received my diagnosis it all made sense. I was bloated from ascites; and was “drained” multiple times and what a relief it was. I began weighing in 155 lbs when all was said and done, I now weigh 110 lbs. My normal weight is 115 lbs to 120 lbs. I had major surgery in September, which consisted of removing my cervix, uterus, spleen , portions of my colon and intestines, a liver resection and a small portion of my pancreas. I also had and ileostomy and colostomy bag for about 6 months. I was scared since I’m a BRCA1 carrier; I expected breast or ovarian cancer so I did all the preventative measures I needed to do, or so I thought. I had many surgeries one with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC). I received chemotherapy for 7 months with days so dark I didn’t believe I could make it. Luckily, I had my boyfriend of 17 years by my side, he came and he battled with me. I’m now in remission going on 8 months.

I believe women need to know that by just getting a mastectomy and ovaries removed does not mean you won’t get cancer. There needs to be more information on rare cancers associated with the BRCA mutation. I’m grateful for City of Hope, they saved my life and have given me a second chance that I wont let go to waste.

Submitted 08/29/2020

This story is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.

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