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more birthdays to us all

donna_lee's picture
Posts: 759
Joined: Feb 2009

Six years ago today, I had already been told I had a mass in my kidney and one, possibly two in the left lobe of my liver, and they couldn't tell what else. On 5/10, the oncologist gave me the news that the odds for Stage IV were a 5-7 month survival without treatment. He recommended surgery. More tests-CT, Bone Scan, consult with 3 specialists in one room at Oregon Health Sciences University (Urologic/Oncologic surgeon, Thoracic surgeon with specialty in Liver diseases, and a general research oncologist.) "We can do it, they said."

Less than 6 weeks later, they did it! Removed were a r. kidney with an 8x12x8 cm tumor, the left lobe of the liver with another large tumor, a set of lymph nodes from near the kidney with 3 of 11 positive for cancer...and my gall bladder, which had a congenital defect and wan't draining right anyway. Other than an episode of pancreatitis at three weeks post surgery, recovery was "normal."

I went on an every 3 month CT, and the difference between the winter and spring tests showed an enlarging node in the fossa (depression) where the kidney had been. It was only attached to the aorta and the duodenum. Confirmation on fine needle aspiration biopsy. I pretty much knew the routine, and had an appointment set up with the specialist at OHSU, via blackberry while he was at a convention out of town. End of June, they added to the incision scar, did the delicate surgery, and sent me on my way. I felt so well, I drove part of the way home and took myself out to lunch the following day.

Routine CT's at 6 months now.

Oops...a change between the 6 mo and 12 mo scans. This time a node dorsal (back of) to the bifurcation of the aorta (where it splits in the lower abdomen to go down each leg); it could not be biopsied, but the PET scan showed it was glowing abnormally. Another surgery, this one vertically, too. Now the scar is up to 14 inches long.

So what may be said at this time. It hasn't been easy, my body is older. I've had six more birthdays. It's been 3 years since the most recent cancer Dx. It's been 8 months since the most recent scare (thyroid tumors found on CT, then ultrasound, nuclear scan and biopsy- results,negative).

But I go to work, play with the grand children, belong to community organizations, volunteer at the high school, visit with family and friends, buy plants for the garden, travel, etc. It sounds pretty bland. Makes one almost feel normal, except there is always, always a nagging doubt somewhere in the back of the mind as the next set of tests approaches.

Surgery has been my option and it's been successful each time. To those who have had mets to other places and are able to use drug treatments, even in tests, my hats are off to you.
For those remaining who have family or friends who are no longer here, my condolences.

A recent mailing from our Relay for Life coordinator indicated that there is a 63% survival rate from cancer now. We have lots to look forward to in the future.

And, More birthdays to us all.

icemantoo's picture
Posts: 2624
Joined: Jan 2010


Now that you are doing much better why settle for a 63% survival rate. After what you went through it should be 99.44%.


garym's picture
Posts: 1651
Joined: Nov 2009


Stories of hope and survival like yours have a profound affect on me because I have known so many that lost the fight. It is one of the biggest reasons I keep hanging around here. If I get to feeling down or worried about "IT" coming back, I can count on you, LB, fox, TW, Jon, etc. to pick me up and recharge my batteries. Wear those scars proudly and know that you are the wind beneath my wings.

Thank you,


foxhd's picture
Posts: 3040
Joined: Oct 2011

....Love you Donna Lee.....

Texas_wedge's picture
Posts: 2803
Joined: Nov 2011

Donna's biography stands as testimony to her admirable fortitude but also to the lesson she draws from it - that survival statistics have improved considerably in recent years and they keep on getting better.

I feel her story illustrates an explanation that goes beyond the improvements in treatment - the value of having your eyes constantly on the future and all the good things there to be enjoyed. If the activities she values are bland then count me in the boring camp because they sound great to me.

alice124's picture
Posts: 897
Joined: Mar 2012

Thank you for reminding us through your inspirational posting of the foot forwards in cancer. Keep blowing out those candles!

250xcfw's picture
Posts: 30
Joined: May 2012

I've read your story and see you've been going to OHSU. I have my first surgery next Wednesday with the next one to fallow in 3 week after.
I know OHSU is a good hospital but it's nice to hear something positive from where I'll be going in the next few days.
Who was your surgeon?


Limelife50's picture
Posts: 460
Joined: Nov 2011

It seems that at times the only people who believe you can live many years after being dxed with the big C are the people on this board, i try to persuade people i know about this fact but i feel at times they look at me like i am a DEAD MAN WALKING, but i know it can be done and i am going to stick my neck out again and say this yes i am going to beat this and i dont care what peiple think,thnx again Donna for your inspiration

foxhd's picture
Posts: 3040
Joined: Oct 2011

Blows peoples minds when they hear how sick I was and how I look now. Yes we DO believe we can get better!

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