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  1. Megan shares her story with Pseudomyxoma Survivor

    Megan and her husband Brian, from our support group, share her story:

    Megan shares her story with Pseudomyxoma SurvivorOn November 30, 2009 Megan went to Northside Hospital, Cherokee, with severe abdominal pain.  After hours of testing and exams, she was admitted to do further testing.  Megan's abdomen was swollen to the point that the doctors, had they already not tested for pregnancy, said that she looked to be approximately five to six months pregnant.

    Megan was diagnosed as having Stage 3c Ovarian Cancer.  The tumors were large mucinous tumors.  Megan was referred to Dr. Joseph Boveri, a gynaecological oncologist in Atlanta, to follow-up and to get this tumor removed.  

    On December 11, 2009 at 2:33pm, Megan underwent a six and a half hour debulking surgery at St. Joseph's Hospital which included removal of the tumors, appendix, omentum, complete hysterectomy and exploratory surgery on her bowels and other organs to confirm if the cancer had spread to those as well.  Her incision was from her right hip to left hip.  It took 57 staples to close the incision.  Dr. Boveri came out after the surgery and explained to the family that it was cancer, however, depending on what the pathology reports revealed, that he thought the primary cancer started out as appendix cancer...

    On January 10, 2009, Megan went back to St. Josephs to have a port implanted for ease of use during chemo.  

    The pathology reports finally came back and concluded that indeed it was not Ovarian Cancer, but Stage 4b Appendix Cancer with Psuedomyxoma Peritonei (PMP).  This type of cancer is a gastrointestinal (GI) cancer, but does not usually response to systemic (IV) chemo as it does not have good blood supply.  

    On February 10, 2010, Megan endured yet another debulking surgery at DeKalb Medical Center under the care of Dr. Michael Quinones.Megan shares her story with Pseudomyxoma Survivor  Assisted by Dr. Boveri, Dr. Q went into Megan's body through an incision from her sternum down to her waist and removed three more tumors that had grown to date.  Then heated chemo (HIPEC) was poured directly into Megan's abdomen.  This is supposed to take care of the cancer in the abdomen as well as reduce side effects.  The dose is 4 to 400 times higher than that of a regular chemo treatment because not much of the chemo is adsorbed into the bloodstream.  This surgery lasted about four hours and Megan recovered in the hospital for a week before being sent home.

    - Megan and Brian

    To read more stories like Megan's, please visit our Survivors' Stories page.

  2.  There are many myths out there.  World Cancer Day is a chance to try and bust some of those myths.

    • wcd_logo_4c_2012Cancer is not just a health issue: it has wide-reaching social, economic, development and human rights implications.
    • Cancer is not just a health issue: a ‘whole-ofsociety’ approach that includes non-governmental organisations, academia, private sector, people living with and affected by cancer, and others, is just as important to support cancer prevention and control.
    • Cancer is not only a disease of the rich: it is a global issue and becoming an increasing public health problem in poorer countries.
    • Cancer is not only a disease of the rich: it is a global issue and becoming an increasing public health problem in poorer countries.
    • Cancer is not only a disease of the elderly: it is a leading cause of death in many countries for children aged 5-14.
    • Cancer is not only a disease of the elderly: most of the 750,000 cervical and breast cancer deaths per year occur during a woman’s reproductive years.
    • Cancer is not only a disease of developed countries: out of the 7.6 million global deaths from cancer in 2008, more than 55% occurred in less developed regions of the world.
    • Cancer isn’t a death sentence: advances in understanding risk and prevention, early detection treatment and care can lead to improved outcomes for patients.  With few exceptions, early stage cancers are less lethal and more treatable than late stage cancers.
    • Around 30% of cancer cases can be prevented!  Prevention is the most cost-effective and sustainable way of reducing the global cancer burden in the long-term.

    If you have learnt something by reading this, please share on social media.  Update your Facebook or Twitter status with "Today I learnt that..." followed by the fact and the hashtag #worldcancerday.

  3. Julie, from our support group, shares her story:

    Julie shares her story of survival with Pseudomyxoma SurvivorMy journey with this rare cancer began in February 2002.  I had just returned from a family holiday with my husband and our three children who were then aged 10, 7 and 5.  When we got home and I looked at the photos, my stomach looked really distended.  After noticing this it just seemed to get worse and felt quite hard.  I went to see the Doctor and he said I probably had wind or had just put on weight.  After a week or so I still had no improvement so went back again and was told perhaps I might have a hernia or something but still nothing was done. I made yet another appointment and this time it was agreed I could have a scan. This was arranged for the next day.

    pseudomyxomasurvivorjulieWhat ensued was a complete whirlwind.  I went for the scan on a Tuesday morning.  By 5pm, the results were back at my Doctor’s surgery and a very rushed appointment was made for me to see a Consultant Gynaecologist at Southend Hospital early on Wednesday morning.  When I saw him he gently told me that they had found an ovarian tumour and some liquid and that I could go back in a week’s time for a hysterectomy.  I was very distraught and didn’t feel I could go home and spend a week trying to be normal; I just wanted the tumour out!  The Consultant said as I felt that way he could perform the operation that afternoon.  So with no time at all to come to terms with what was happening I had a hysterectomy at age 39.  My care at Southend Hospital was fantastic, everybody was so kind.

    I spent 10 days in hospital and was visited by a counsellor who spoke to me about dying and wanted to speak to my children too.  I didn’t feel particularly comfortable talking to her and definitely didn’t want her speaking to my children.  Everyone reacts differently and I didn’t want to accept they were preparing me to face dealing with the fact I had ovarian cancer.  I think I was at home for about a week and then had to return to hospital to get the pathology results and to see what the next steps were to be.  I will never forget the Consultant’s words “You have not got cancer; you have a rare disease called Pseudomxyoma Peritonei (PMP), which can only be treated with further surgery”.  Someone in Pathology recognised what I had, which was quite unusual in 2002 as it was so rare, so luckily for me Southend Hospital was able to point me in the right direction.  It was arranged for me to visit Mr Brendan Moran, the Specialist at Basingstoke.

    I found out the treatment would be a further operation and that I was a suitable candidate.  I had to wait until six months after my hysterectomy so I would be strong enough to withstand this further op.  In January 2003, I travelled to Basingstoke and had the operation, it took 13 hours. I had already had a complete hysterectomy and now had my appendix, spleen and gall bladder taken out, part of my stomach removed and disease had to be removed from my abdomen and stripped off the surface of my liver, and a few other bits and pieces while they were at it!  I was given heated chemotherapy at 41˚C directly into my abdomen to hopefully remove any cells which may have remained.  I spent five days in intensive care, then went back to the ward to continue my slow recovery.  I was in North Hampshire hospital for a total of four weeks.  The care there was second to none, absolutely amazing.  I came home for the next instalment of the recovery process, which was probably a further three months.

    After all this I felt very well and eventually completely back to normal and life continued as before.  I had to have an annual scan at North Hampshire Hospital.  After about six years, some abnormalities showed up on my scans but they were stable for a couple of years.  In 2011, it was decided I would need to be operated on again as the recurrence had grown in size. In February 2012 I went back to North Hampshire hospital.  This time the operation took 7 hours; they had an awful lot of adhesions to get through, which was quite time consuming.  I had part of my bowel removed which they managed to resect.  The mass was removed and I had the heated chemotherapy again.  This time I was only in hospital for just over three weeks but still had the three month recovery period.

    Julie shares her story of survival with Pseudomyxoma SurvivorIt is almost a year later and I am currently feeling very well, back to work and living a ‘normal’ life.  The whole experience has taken its toll, not just on me but my whole family.  My husband had an awful lot to cope with especially as our children were so young the first time round.  The second time was, in retrospect, possibly a bit easier as our children were all teenagers but that also brought with it issues as they were fully aware of what was going on.

    - Julie

    To read more stories like Julie's, please visit our Survivors' Stories page.