Survivor Story

by Lisa Craine

photo

The diagnosis of Cholangiocarcinoma came to our family on September 8, 2010 and our lives were changed forever. People say change is good but cancer is not one of those changes. There are blessings in cancer but the cancer itself is not a blessing. We have received many of these blessings in the form of love, support, new friends and the ability to help others with their cancer diagnosis.

I remember the day clearly, all I heard was “You have cancer.” My ears closed and my mind started to go to places that no one wants to go to. I was planning my funeral in my mind, trying to figure out what would happen to my husband, children, friends and family. Would they forget me? Would I suffer? Was this the end? I could see the fear and pain in my husbands eyes and I wondered how we would tell our boys that their mother had a rare cancer that we could barely pronounce. The day was surreal like an out of body experience.

My referral to The Cleveland Clinic Foundation was literally a life saver. My official diagnosis after a biopsy was Stage IV ICC. My tumor was eight centimeters by 9 centimeters and pressed against my hepatic artery. I was thankful for a multidisciplinary team Dr. Fung, Dr. Stephenson and Dr. Estfan.

Dr. John Fung performed a liver resection removing 75% of my liver and my follow up treatment was six months of chemo. I rang the bell with a big smile on my last chemo day because I was sure I was done with cancer! I was wrong.

My cancer has returned 4 times. I have had two liver resections, 4 different chemotherapy regiments and Steriotactic Radiation three times. I have learned that Cholangiocarcinoma is a chronic disease and I am ok with that.

The last four years has brought so many new clinical trials, targeted therapies, new types of radiation and proton treatments. I am more hopeful than ever that we will find early detection tools, better treatment options and hopefully a cure.

The Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation members have become my second family and I am so grateful for the support, knowledge, prayers and friendships I have made through this wonderful organization.

Today I celebrate life, family, friends and 18 months of being cancer free. Never give up up Hope because without it you cannot have peace in your life.