What it feels like: Gastrointestinal stromal tumour (GIST)

That story started in October, just a few days before Thanksgiving. And by the time I hit near the end of November, I had enough time to process it. In those weeks, with the different steps, there were tears in our house but a real sense of feeling like we’ll just take this one step at a time. And feeling more — I don’t know if control is the right word — but we just felt more informed this time.

There were lots of days those weeks when I wasn’t that great. I did wonder,

How will it go this time? What side effects would show up?

I think the real concern I had was would the [medication I was on] handle it this time? Or would I have to move on to other medications?

Did you have surgery again?

No. The plan was we would start with the medication and see how that goes. It was explained to me by my oncologist that we just don’t immediately go in and remove it because we can see this one. It’s big enough, we can see this one. But if you go in and remove that, and then another year down the road there’s another one that’s grown big enough — will I have to keep going in? It’s not that [surgery’s] not on the table, it’s an option if we need it.

And so where are you in your treatment now? 

Because it spread to the liver, that means it’s metastatic, which means I’m stage four, which means that I will be on treatment for as long as my body can handle it or as long as there’s options that are working. [The medication] is not eliminating the disease, but it is keeping me stable and, in the medical world, and in Hazel’s world, being stable is probably the best I’m going to get. And I’m taking it.

In this cancer, they’ve come a long way. I see what’s happening in the cancer world around me, you know, I read things or see the new stuff. I know a lot of people think

Why have we poured billions and billions of dollars into cancer research a

nd we still haven’t found a cure?

 There may never be a cure for some cancers, but there’s amazing things in that research that they’ve learned.

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