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Patient’s Corner

Solid Tumors

I’m Living the Life I Was Destined to Have

David Hysong, as told to Jo Cavallo  /  April 10, 2021

At 33, I’m not living the life I had imagined for myself. If cancer hadn’t interrupted my plans, I would be serving in the United States Army Special Forces by now, a profession that was inspired by my father’s career as a military officer and helicopter pilot and one that I had dreamed about since ...

Breast Cancer

I Want to Live Long and I Want to Live Well

Susan Swanson, as told to Jo Cavallo  /  March 25, 2021

I’m a person who doesn’t like uncertainty. I’m also a worrier. So, when my hand kept going to the same spot on the upper part of my left breast near my chest wall, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t quite right, which persisted even after a routine mammography failed to find any susp...

Breast Cancer
Immunotherapy

I Let Science, Not Emotion, Dictate My Treatment

Karen Peterson, as told to Jo Cavallo  /  February 25, 2021

I had my first experience with cancer when I was just 3 or 4 years old and complained to my mother that my “tummy hurt.” I was diagnosed with Wilms tumor, the same cancer my 18-month-old brother died of before I was born. I remember being in the hospital for weeks at a time and being known by family...

Prostate Cancer

I Credit Cancer Research With Saving My Life

Retired Col. Gary R. Steele as told to Jo Cavallo  /  February 10, 2021

In December 2015, I thought I was through with cancer. I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2011 after a routine blood test showed that my prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level was high. I underwent prostatectomy, and although it was clear the cancer had breached the capsule of the prostate, for ...

Breast Cancer

Finding Hope With Cancer

Stephanie Walker, as told to Jo Cavallo  /  January 25, 2021

Sometimes there just is no escaping cancer. I thought I had done everything right. I was diligent about adhering to my annual physical exams, including mammograms, and routinely performed breast self-exams to spot any early changes in my breasts. Still, in the summer of 2015, I was diagnosed with ho...

Colorectal Cancer

My Life of Service to Other Cancer Survivors

Tristana Vásquez, as told to Jo Cavallo  /  December 25, 2020

Six months before my diagnosis of metastatic colorectal cancer, in 2016, at age 38, I told my mom, “I feel like I’m dying.” Even though more than 10 specialists I had seen over the previous 8 years for unexplained bouts of abdominal pain and bloating, fatigue, and constipation kept assuring me that ...

Breast Cancer

Staying a Step Ahead of Cancer

Jamil Rivers as told to Jo Cavallo  /  December 10, 2020

When I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2018, my first thought was, I hope my three young children do not lose two parents to cancer. My husband, Ricky, had survived two bouts of cancer, early-stage colorectal cancer and, most recently, stage I kidney cancer. Like Ricky’s two previou...

Breast Cancer

Yes, Men Get Breast Cancer, Too

Kirby Lewis, as told to Jo Cavallo  /  November 25, 2020

You could call it a sixth sense, but the moment I felt a lump in my left breast I knew it was cancer, although it would take several weeks to confirm the diagnosis. When I saw my primary cancer physician and told him of my concern, he said: “Don’t worry. Men don’t get breast cancer; it’s a woman’s d...

Head and Neck Cancer

My Age May Have Been a Barrier to Timely Diagnosis of Glioblastoma Multiforme

Adam Hayden as told to Jo Cavallo  /  November 10, 2020

I think my age and apparent good health contributed to a delay in my diagnosis of glioblastoma multiforme. The first symptom I had of the cancer appeared on December 26, 2014, when I was 32 years old. My family and I had just gotten home from celebrating the Christmas holiday with our relatives when...

Colorectal Cancer

Becoming Acquainted With Cancer

Patrick Beauregard as told to Jo Cavallo  /  October 25, 2020

Editor’s Note: The ASCO Post learned of the death of Patrick Beauregard due to colorectal cancer on September 6, 2020.  Just weeks after my wedding in late summer of 2017, I had a sudden bout of abdominal pain so severe that it sent me to the emergency room. I was just 29 years old and in great phy...

Solid Tumors
Pancreatic Cancer

My Inherited Condition Has Led to a Life and Career I Love

Mark A. Lewis, MD, as told to Jo Cavallo  /  October 10, 2020

My father died of thymic cancer when I was 14, and that’s when I decided to become an oncologist. Ironically, the first patient I diagnosed with cancer was me. In 2009, during my first week of training in hematology/oncology at the Mayo Clinic, I began having severe abdominal pain, which had plagu...

Colorectal Cancer

I’ve Turned My Pain Into a New Life Purpose

Scott Wilson, as told to Jo Cavallo  /  September 25, 2020

The first half of 2016 was arguably the most exciting of my life. My wife, Jaione, and I had decided to leave the United Kingdom and move with our two children, Andrew, then 14, and Alba, then 10, to Denver, where I was taking on a leadership role in corporate affairs for a brewery company. By the b...

Lung Cancer

I Say ‘Yes’ to Life

Maureen Markham as told to Jo Cavallo  /  September 10, 2020

I have been a registered nurse for almost 5 decades and was completely unprepared to hear the words “You have stage IV lung cancer.” I think receiving the diagnosis was especially shocking because the symptoms I began experiencing in the summer of 2015, including some unusual weight gain, shortnes...

Lung Cancer

Having Cancer Has Not Affected Me in Any Negative Way

Radhakrishna Vemuri, MD, FACP, as told to Jo Cavallo  /  August 10, 2020

I have witnessed much sickness and death over my 35-year career as a medical oncologist. During the early years of my career, I had difficulty dealing with the sickness and death I witnessed on a regular basis. As a result, with help from the Hindu scripture of Bhagavad Gita, I have trained my brain...

Lung Cancer

A Diagnosis of Advanced Lung Cancer Is No Longer a Death Sentence

Xin Zheng, as told to Jo Cavallo  /  July 25, 2020

In hindsight, the symptoms I began experiencing in the winter of 2013, including pains in my chest and shoulders and a persistent cough, should have rung loud alarm bells. However, having undergone a pancreatectomy and splenectomy to cure a history of mucinous cystic neoplasms of the pancreas 5 year...

The Wake

Rashmi Chugh, MD  /  July 25, 2020

The ASCO Post is pleased to reproduce installments of the “Art of Oncology,” as published previously in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. These articles focus on the experience of suffering from cancer or of caring for people diagnosed with cancer, and they include narratives, topical essays, histor...

Head and Neck Cancer

Facing Death and Appreciating Life

Trent E. Tipple, MD, as told to Jo Cavallo  /  July 10, 2020

I have had to come to terms with my own mortality three times in my life and I’m only 46. When I was 17, I was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease and experienced renal failure 2 years later. I underwent my first kidney transplant at 21, just before starting medical school. Finally, I thought my ...

Colorectal Cancer

I’m Not Too Young for Colorectal Cancer

Shawn Farrah as told to Jo Cavallo  /  June 25, 2020

The first symptoms I had of colorectal cancer—blood in my stool and abdominal pain—coincided with surgery I had to remove my appendix in the spring of 2017. My surgeon attributed the symptoms to the appendectomy and to the medications I received both before and after the surgery. In addition to thos...

Lymphoma

My Future Is Doled Out in Increments of 6 Months

Chip Baldwin as told to Jo Cavallo  /  June 10, 2020

In the fall of 2015, I was looking forward to a trip to Florida for a visit with my daughter and her family, along with a little relaxation. The evening before the trip, I experienced some abdominal pain that my wife, Angela, and I thought might be appendicitis. Concerned the problem could jeopard...

CNS Cancers
COVID-19

Brain Cancer Prepared Me for the Isolation and Uncertainty of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Jeremy Pivor, as told to Jo Cavallo  /  May 25, 2020

The symptoms of low-grade oligodendroglioma first appeared in the summer of 2003, when I was 12, but they were vague enough—mild headaches and occasional weird sensations on my right side—to ignore. In the fall, I tripped and fell during a game of rollerblade hockey with my classmates and started co...

Multiple Myeloma
COVID-19

I Have Multiple Myeloma and Am Concerned About the Coronavirus

Tiffany H. Williams, as told to Jo Cavallo  /  May 10, 2020

In hindsight, the symptoms I began experiencing in the fall of 2013—sudden excruciating back bone pain and severe fatigue—should have tipped me off that I had a serious disease, but 7 years ago, they were easy to explain away. The bone pain was similar to what I had experienced several years earlier...

Hepatobiliary Cancer

A Clinical Trial Saved My Life

MELINDA BACHINI, AS TOLD TO JO CAVALLO  /  April 25, 2020

In the fall of 2009, I began experiencing some abdominal discomfort, pain in my right shoulder, and severe fatigue that were easily explained away as the result of gallstones and by my career as a paramedic. I had many of the risk factors for gallbladder disease, and both my mother and sister suff...

Pancreatic Cancer

Living A Full Life After Pancreatic Cancer

Marsha Edwards, as told to Jo Cavallo  /  April 10, 2020

I have been a radiologic technologist for 47 years, so after going to the bathroom one Sunday morning in October 2018 and finding my urine had suddenly turned dark, I knew something was wrong. I wasn’t in any pain and did not have a urinary tract infection, which would explain the discoloration of m...

Breast Cancer

I Wasn’t Prepared for the Emotional Turmoil of Breast Cancer

Carrie Kreiswirth as told to Jo Cavallo  /  March 25, 2020

Nearly a decade ago, my mother tested positive for the BRCA1 mutation; soon after, my twin sister and I were tested for the inherited defective gene, and I learned I, too, have the BRCA1 mutation. My sister is not a carrier of the mutation. Although there is a long history of both breast and ovarian...

Breast Cancer

Therapy Is Keeping My Metastatic Breast Cancer Manageable

Eva Joseph, as told to Jo Cavallo  /  March 10, 2020

Despite being vigilant about adhering to my annual schedule of screening mammography, in 2002, I was diagnosed with stage III triple-negative breast cancer. The diagnosis scared me, and I wondered if I was going to die. Determined to do what I could to survive the cancer, I underwent aggressive ther...

Lung Cancer

Cancer Has Made Me the Person I Am, and I’m Grateful

Tomma Hargraves as told to Jo Cavallo  /  February 25, 2020

The only clue that I was harboring a life-threatening cancer came as I was driving to a golf lesson in the fall of 2006, and I casually rubbed the left side of neck and felt a tiny bump. Although I wasn’t alarmed at the time, I did point out the mass to my primary care physician when I m...

Genomics-Guided Molecular Targeted Therapy Gave Me Back My Life

Keith Taggart as Told to Jo Cavallo  /  February 10, 2020

In October 2014, I noticed a small pea-sized lump on the left side of my cheek. It didn’t hurt, and I didn’t have any physical symptoms that could connect the lump with a rare and serious disease, but I was curious enough about what the lump could be to get it checked out by my primary care physic...

Gastrointestinal Cancer

Cancer No Longer Scares Me

Denise Leprine, as told to Jo Cavallo  /  January 25, 2020

Cancer was a disease I feared until 3 years ago, when I was diagnosed with gastric cancer. After receiving the diagnosis, I knew I didn’t have any time to indulge in fear; I had to take action if I was going to survive. In hindsight, symptoms of the cancer, including some fatigue and indigestion, st...

Multiple Myeloma

My Dream Is That Multiple Myeloma Will One Day Be in My Past and No Longer a Part of My Future

Jenny Ahlstrom as told to Jo Cavallo  /  December 25, 2019

A year before my diagnosis of multiple myeloma, in 2010, my husband Paul and I moved with our six children to Monterrey, Mexico, where Paul was helping to create a venture capital industry. We were so busy settling into a new country and getting our children integrated into school that when I star...

Breast Cancer

Having Cancer Should Not Make You Homeless

Molly MacDonald as told to Jo Cavallo  /  December 10, 2019

In the spring of 2005, I was launching a new career as a sales consultant for a startup graphics company and wanted to cross off a few essential things on my to-do list, including getting my annual mammogram and physical, before I started my new job. Although I was surprised when I got a call from...

Multiple Myeloma

A Diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma Taught Me to Live in the Moment

Richard Hite, as told to Jo Cavallo  /  November 25, 2019

I was just 39 in 2015 when I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. I have a wife and three young children whom I love, a challenging and fulfilling career, and I wasn’t ready to die. When I was first diagnosed, I met with a medical oncologist who had little experience treating this type of cancer. Sh...

Head and Neck Cancer

Remembering Craig Alguire

The ASCO Post Staff  /  November 10, 2019

It is with great sadness that we report Craig Alguire, MD, 42, died on October 11, 2019, at his home in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Diagnosed with grade 4 glioblastoma multiforme in 2015, Dr. Alguire chronicled the effects the cancer was having on his life in his Patient’s Corner column, published in th...

Lymphoma

A Clinical Trial Was the Right Choice for Me

Cheryl Krafft, as told to Jo Cavallo  /  October 25, 2019

Nothing prepared me for a diagnosis of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) in the fall of 2016. I had none of the typical symptoms of the cancer, such as night sweats, enlarged lymph nodes, or fatigue. In fact, my energy level was as high as ever, as I traveled around the country for business, a...

Prostate Cancer

Cancer Taught Me What It Means to Be a Man

Bin McLaurin, as told to Jo Cavallo  /  October 10, 2019

Let’s face it, men don’t go to the doctor as often as we should. At least that has been my experience. I felt compelled to finally make an appointment with my primary care physician after I began working as a research assistant at the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai in 2014, as it felt hypocri...

Gynecologic Cancers

Finding a New Focus After Cancer

Cynthia Hayes, as told to Jo Cavallo  /  September 25, 2019

In the early fall of 2015, my daughter and I were on our way to our favorite nail salon to get picture-perfect ready for a gala later that evening at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York, when I got a call from my gynecologist saying I had “flunked my Pap test.” The Pap smear showed at...

Leukemia

Having Cancer as a Teenager Derailed My Life Course

Hernan Barangan, as told to Jo Cavallo  /  September 10, 2019

In 1994, I was a normal, active 15-year-old, who loved cars, sports, and rock music, especially songs from my favorite group, The Clash. In fact, it was while jubilantly dancing alone in my room to one of their tunes that I vomited into my hands, an early symptom of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). I h...

Hematologic Malignancies
Lymphoma

A Clinical Trial Was the Right Choice for Me

Tina Marin, as told to Jo Cavallo  /  August 25, 2019

I found my cancer quite accidentally. In March 2018, as I was taking a shower, my hand casually brushed against my right mastoid bone, and I noticed the area sounded hollow. Around the same time, I realized I had developed a sense of fullness in that ear as well. I had been feeling tired, but that w...

Solid Tumors
Head and Neck Cancer

Remembering Michael D. Becker

Jo Cavallo  /  August 10, 2019

The staff of The ASCO Post were sad to learn of the passing of Michael D. Becker on July 9, 2019. When Michael was diagnosed with human papillomavirus (HPV)-related oropharyngeal cancer in 2015, he made the decision to go public with his diagnosis to raise awareness of the importance of having every...

Colorectal Cancer

Becoming Acquainted With Cancer

Patrick Beauregard as told to Jo Cavallo  /  July 25, 2019

Just weeks after my wedding in late summer of 2017, I had a sudden bout of abdominal pain so severe that it sent me to the emergency room. I was just 29 years old and in great physical shape. In the emergency room, a physician examined me and was about to release me with a prescription for a laxativ...

Hematologic Malignancies
Lymphoma

Transitioning From Healthy Physician to Patient With Cancer

Anthony Perre, MD, as told to Jo Cavallo  /  June 25, 2019

As you probably already know, physicians do not make the best patients. When I began experiencing the early signs of Hodgkin lymphoma, in 2007, including a persistent cough, unusual fatigue, and pruritus, I self-diagnosed allergic rhinitis and began treatment with intranasal corticosteroids. Altho...

CNS Cancers

As My Outside World Became Smaller, My Family Focus Became Larger

Craig Alguire, MD, as told to Jo Cavallo  /  June 10, 2019

As I write this, I think I’m making sense but am not 100% sure. My brain is a little scrambled after nearly 4 years of treatment for grade 4 glioblastoma multiforme, but I think the essence of my humor and humanity is still intact. When I experienced my first partial seizure while riding my exercis...

AYA Survivors Should Be Allowed to Participate in Adult Clinical Trials

Ann Ramer, as told to Jo Cavallo  /  May 25, 2019

When strangers ask me how many children I have, I’m not quite sure how to respond. Do I still have four children even though one has died? A year and a half after my son Brent’s death, at the age of 18, from complications of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), I’m still struggling with knowing the correct...

Solid Tumors
Kidney Cancer

Hope and Fear Are Two Constants in the Lives of Patients With Cancer

Adam P. Stern, MD, as told to Jo Cavallo  /  May 10, 2019

A year and a half ago, when I was 33, the thought of having a life-threatening disease was unimaginable. In hindsight, the weight loss I began experiencing in the fall of 2017 should have raised concern because I’ve always had to be mindful of my diet if I wanted to lose weight. But denial can be a ...

Lung Cancer

Young People Get Lung Cancer, Too

Taylor Bell Duck, as told to Jo Cavallo  /  April 25, 2019

I’ve been in excellent physical shape my whole life. Growing up, it was my dream to play Division 1 soccer in college, and I trained hard throughout high school to achieve that goal. My dream came true, in 2005, when I was invited to play soccer at East Carolina University. I was eager to bond wit...

Head and Neck Cancer

I Was Not Prepared for the Emotional Toll of Cancer

Dale Maloney, as told to Jo Cavallo  /  April 10, 2019

In 1996, an excruciating sore throat sent me first to my primary care physician and then to an ear, nose, and throat specialist, after a suspicious mass was found on the right side of my throat. A biopsy determined that the tumor was squamous cell neck cancer, and additional tests of my neck, resp...

Breast Cancer

Restarting My Life After Terminal Cancer

Judy Perkins as told to Jo Cavallo  /  March 25, 2019

At the end of 2015, I was dying. I was just 50 years old and a wife and mother of 2 teenage boys. Twelve years earlier, I had been diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ in my left breast. Despite a modified radical mastectomy and removal of nearly all of the lymph nodes in my left underarm—which...

Breast Cancer

We Need Better Screening Methods for Detecting Breast Cancer

Hilary Gan, MA, as told to Jo Cavallo  /  March 10, 2019

MY BREAST CANCER was probably a decade in the making, although I only became aware that there might be a problem in 2014, when I noticed some slight pain in my left breast. A routine mammogram and ultrasound found benign cysts in my dense breasts, which most likely explained the pain, I was told, bu...

Hematologic Malignancies
Multiple Myeloma

Cancer Has Given Me the Life I Was Meant to Live

Jeri A. Dyson, MD, as told to Jo Cavallo  /  February 25, 2019

The first symptom of my multiple myeloma appeared 6 months before I received the official diagnosis. I began having some discomfort, not pain exactly, in my right hip, and developed a pronounced limp. I had recently left my medical practice to launch Global Girls Global Women, a nonprofit humanitari...

Lymphoma

Living My Best Life

Richard A. Grenell, as told to Jo Cavallo  /  February 10, 2019

Five years ago, I was living my dream life. I was under contract as a commentator on Fox News, which necessitated commuting weekly from my home in Los Angeles to New York, and was building a new home in Palm Springs with my partner, Matt Lashey. Not only was my career and personal life going well, a...

Hematologic Malignancies
Leukemia

Remnants of Cancer Remain, but Demons Are Now Gone

Patrick Eck as told to Jo Cavallo  /  January 25, 2019

In the summer of 2002, I was a physically active 17-year-old boy on the cusp of adulthood. I was about to enter my senior year in high school, and like other teens my age, I was excited about college and the promise of the undreamed-of opportunities that lay ahead. At first, the lethargy I was feeli...

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