My Cancer Survival Story by Mary Johnson
The first physical signs that something was wrong began in October 2016. At first, I ignored the symptoms, denial. It wasn’t until January 2017 when the pain became overwhelming that I sought medical advice. An ER visit provided me with some possibilities and pain medication. I remember a conversation with my son that evening. I listed for him the possible diagnosis and said, “It’s not cancer, no one in our family has ever had cancer.”
A few months later, May 2017, an oncologist is telling me and my children, “You have cancer.” I underwent a complete hysterectomy and was diagnosed with Stage 2 Uterine Sarcoma. I was treated with chemotherapy. I felt like the therapy was more likely to kill me than the cancer. My oncologist was pleased with the results and after a few months it was decided that I had no more signs of the cancer.
I thought I was cured. I began a new healthier lifestyle, eating plant-based foods, walking every day, and adding strength exercises. I gave up smoking too.
August 2018, I returned to oncologist for another follow-up; I showed him a bulge in my abdomen and explained that I felt like my insides were going to fall out as I walked. He sent me across the street to the ER for immediate CT scans and sure enough, the cancer was back. This time it was more complicated as it has wrapped itself up in my small intestine. I was incredibly grateful for the cancer surgeon who took on my case and removed ‘Call the cancer that could be seen.”
Unfortunately, I suffered a setback with a severe abdominal wound infection that landed me back in the hospital for 17 days and then 6 months of wearing a wound vac and 3 days a week wound care. My tummy was flat for the first time in years and I basically felt healthy and strong again.
January 2019, a new cist was discovered from my most recent CT scan. My oncologist didn’t mince words, “the cancer is back.” This time he sought the advice of a friend and colleague who had recently opened NEXT Oncology in San Antonio, TX. A new clinic to conduct clinical trials for cancer patients. I began the clinical trial, an immunotherapy intravenous drug treatment at NEXT Oncology in February 2019. At this point I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Uterine Sarcoma.
My doctors, nurses, researchers, family, and friends were heroic. Also, heroic are the wonderful clinical trial support groups, ThriveWell Cancer Foundation, provided financial assistance by providing me with overnight lodging each time I made a trip from Dallas to San Antonio. I underwent treatment every 3 weeks for 2 years. This assistance made it possible for me to afford the 40 plus appointments. I am grateful for everyone who offered me their kindness and support.
My trial closed as of February 2021. As of March 2021, there is no detectable cancer on my CT scans.