Yvette King was a marathon runner. Like so many past races she has won, Yvette thought in early 2019 that she had finally beaten her Mesothelioma.
After several operations. Multiple rounds of chemotherapy. Multiple imaging scans and tests.
Now, in 2021, their marathon continues.
This is the reality of mesothelioma relapse: complete removal is difficult, and the chance of return is always in the back of your mind.
Yvette, a 56-year-old mother of two and herself the wife of a cancer survivor, refuses to give up. She’s a marathon runner, after all, and what’s a mile or two left to run?
“Doctors say I have some good options, so we are hopeful and grateful,” she said in an interview with Mesothelioma Guide.
Yvette’s survival story
Yvette’s survival story is quite remarkable. She was diagnosed in October 2015, five years after first diagnosing breathing problems. At first she blamed her allergies, but these only worsened and were accompanied by coughs and back pain.
A visit to the doctor revealed the truth: Pleural mesothelioma bordered on stage 3. She had tumors all over the pleura (the thin layer of tissue between the lungs and chest wall) and began to spread to her right lung.
So she started chemotherapy and eventually received extrapleural pneumonectomy, an operation to remove her right lung, at Anne Arundel Medical Center in Maryland. She was irradiated after the operation.
She battled the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation by running and exercising, and by maintaining her strength and energy. Your method is one of the tactical experts that patients suggest using Chemotherapy side effects.
Five months after her diagnosis, she seemed clear. Two months later, the doctors found tumors in her spine. The cancer was more advanced than initially thought. In May 2017, she underwent spinal surgery to remove tumors along with parts of her vertebrae at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.
She had blood clots and even became life sustaining for a short time. However, she continued to struggle and was eventually cancer free thanks to that Immunotherapeutic Opdivo (nivolumab). She entered a rare group in October 2020 – five-year survival. Only 5% of mesothelioma cases reach the five-year survival mark.
She hopes to make it five more.
“I work hard with my exercise to build muscle and strength for my chemotherapy battle!” She exclaimed.
Yvette’s new cancer fight
Yvette noticed symptoms of cancer in 2020 and requested a PET exam. Her insurance plan made it difficult and the symptoms got worse.
“The pain in my liver, kidney and spine told me I had more cancer,” she said.
Eventually she got a scan, paid for it out of pocket, and showed a recurrence with cancerous activity in several areas:
- Right breast
Tumors that appear in the right breast are likely remnants of pleural mesothelioma on that side and are spreading where your right lung used to be. Tumors in the spine are holdovers from the first relapse she had.
“I had small tumors on my liver from the start, but they went away with immunotherapy,” said Yvette.
This cancer is difficult to remove with surgery. Mesothelioma tumors spread out more like small bumps than a large mass. Finding and removing all of these bumps, some of which are hidden from the naked eye, is extremely difficult even for the best surgeons in the world. That’s why so many people have a relapse of mesothelioma – why it’s a reality for this cancer.
“My most recent diagnosis of mesothelioma now includes both cell types, epitheloid and sarcomatoid,” she said. “In this phase of my life, approval for a clinical study would be an advantage. My goal is to be included in a study so that we have a better prognosis for future treatments. “
Never giving up attitude
Yvette met Dr. Julie Brahmer of Johns Hopkins Hospital to conduct clinical trials. She can meet with another specialist Dr. Raffit Hassan from the National Cancer Institute. She has no chemotherapy and opdivo. Your cancer is so widespread that it is time to think outside the box.
“We’re trying to change our benefits to have a PET scan every six months,” she said. “Because I’ll be in court, I may not have to deal with it again.”
Yvette said she and her husband “watch, wait and hope” to see what life will be like in the future. The meeting with Dr. Brehmer opened his eyes and offered the survivor, who already knew a lot, more knowledge.
“This cancer falls asleep and then comes back,” she said. “That’s why I wanted to be as healthy as possible and continue the rehab.”
She knew there was a possibility of repetition in 2018 and 2019. In fact, she was sure it would come. But the PET exam and meeting with Dr. Brehmer are part of their “never to give up”, a runner mentality with hope for the finish line.
“This PET exam that three doctors said I didn’t need but knew I needed opened so many doors for me,” she said.
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