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Mesothelioma Survivor Stories: Ivana

A FIRST-PERSON STORY FROM A FIRST-CLASS WARRIOR

Ivana

Soon after my 30th birthday, in the late summer of 2009 I started having lower abdominal pain. People told me that my life will drastically change in my thirties, but what was about to happen wasn’t what I had in mind.

My primary care doctor’s diagnosis that I was ovulating sounded ridiculous, so I had my gynecologist do an exploratory laparoscopy. Two days after laparoscopy, on November 21st, I met the oncologist that was called to give an opinion during the surgery. He said: “we think you have cancer. I suspect it is a primary peritoneal cancer; you can Google it to learn more about it.” I am not sure if I got mad more about the cancer news or the way he told me. I remember thinking how my big “life change” is going to happen, just a few weeks into my thirties.

Within the next few weeks I got 2 biopsy results that confirmed my peritoneal mesothelioma diagnosis. Of course, further seeing that doctor was absolutely out of question, so I looked up a real professional.

Dr. Alexander was able to see me and on January 25th, 2010 he performed the surgery.

The surgery was about 9 hours long with an exploratory laporotomy with cytoreduction of the intraperitoneal tumor and HIPEC with Mytomycin C. After a week spent at the University of Maryland hospital in Baltimore I went home. After about 3 months I went back to full time work and regular routine. Luckily, my cancer was found very early and hadn’t spread much, so I had a chance to have an easier “way out”. So far, that surgery was the only treatment I had, no additional chemo or other therapies. My scans and follow-ups were on 3 months for the first year, every 6 months during the second, and right now every 9 months.

Unfortunately, I don’t have answers on two very important questions: “how did I get it” and “how long was it there”. Although, with recent studies and research of genetics, I do know that I did not have a gene mutation. My cancer is caused by exposure and that is a huge relief to me and my family.

Speaking of family, with cancer I have gained a new family – my meso family made of amazing people and fighters like myself. They are a great support and an endless source of strength and information.

Huge thank you to the Meso Foundation for creating this unique family of fighters, caregivers, doctors, nurses and researchers.

Never stop believing!