Tracy is Conquering Cancer!
September 2019 and I was a few days into my 9-day hospital stay when my surgical oncologist asked me how I was feeling. I said that I was obviously alive, but not feeling particularly great, and that this surgery was more intensive than I thought.
He responded with a chuckle, “Yes of course, I basically ran you over with a truck, backed up and ran over you again!”
This is what lifesaving Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC) surgery feels like.
When I received my stage-4 ovarian cancer diagnosis in May 2019 I was completely blind-side and overwhelmed. My life immediately came to a hard stop. All things ceased, except cancer, which continued to grow at a highly accelerated pace, my tumor markers were doubling monthly. At the time, I had no idea how a medical procedure known at the “shake-and-bake” could save my life.
With a 5-year survival rate of only 30% I really could not see a long-term path forward for myself but was determined to try and find a way into that survival window.
I knew I had to find every possible resource and the best professionals to help get me there. I was encouraged to consider an intensive surgical treatment where they apply heated chemo drugs directly where the cancer is in the abdominal cavity. As I was already feeling like hell with IV chemotherapy treatment, this sounded like a horrible idea that I would never live through, no way!
But when I found out that my friend Helen Szabla had this same HIPEC surgery a decade ago (and is still thriving today!) I called her immediately to learn more. She told me it would be a really tough recovery, but that I could get through it. And she was right.
Today, I can share with great confidence that the reason I am living a completely full life is largely because of this HIPEC treatment I received at Mercy Hospital and the aggressive approach of my highly skilled surgery oncologist, Dr. Sardi.
In a couple of weeks, I will have another CT scan to look for any possible signs of cancer. It will be 3 years since my successful HIPEC surgery. My doctors have noted many times that if I can make it 3 years without a recurrence, it will be less likely that I will have one. I plan on hitting that benchmark with this next scan.
It’s difficult to convey what this reality means to me. I honestly was not sure how it was even possible that I would make it this far, particularly without having a return of cancer and additional treatment. It is the exception to make it this far and be this well from stage-4 cancer.
This is why I am such a strong supporter for the "Heat It To Beat It" annual event and ovarian cancer awareness. Keeping another woman from having to repeat my experience motivates me to share my experiences and educate people about how HIPEC treatment save lives.
This event is always a high point for me as it’s the same week as my birthday and HIPEC surgery anniversary date.
I hope that you can join “Team Tracy” in supporting this important cause by participating in the 13th Annual “Heat It To Beat It” walk or making a donation on my fundraising page.
THANK YOU very much for supporting me throughout this journey of life 2.0!
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