Mark Thompson via Crowdrise
March 31, 2011
EVENT DATE: Apr 23, 2011
Every year we put on a hockey game/auction for a charity close to our hearts. This year it's for a dear friend who was diagnosed with cancer and is seeking optional experimental treatment in Texas. This is their story....
It was during our trip to Hawaii, with our 2-year old daughter, in November 2008 when Chris started to feel flu-like symptoms. Weeks later back home, a CT scan revealed a softball sized tumor in his abdomen and on Christmas Eve, Chris underwent a seven hour surgery to have it removed. Pathology tests diagnosed the tumour as a Gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST), an extremely rare cancer affecting the digestive tract or nearby structures in the abdomen. With no link to diet or lifestyle choices, random genetic mutations are suspected as the cause of GIST. GIST is a sacroma cancer that strikes 9.1 people out of a million in Canada. As you can imagine, we were started by the diagnosis.
Our oncologist at the Cross Cancer Institute recommended that Chris attend regular scans and tests every 3 months to monitor for reoccurrence. Focused on recovering from the extensive surgery, we looked forward to the coming spring. We welcomed the birth of our second child, Joshua in April and embarked on a trip to Italy with the kids and extended family that June. Life returned to normal and all the regular challenges of day to day resumed. It was in April 2010 when a regular scan changed all of that.
The scan revealed four small lesions in Chris’ liver. He was started on Gleevac, an oral chemotherapy drug, immediately. Although not a cure, Gleevac held promise to manage tumor size for a number of years. The news was devastating. With help from family, we decided to focus on ensuring Chris was receiving the best care possible from leading experts treating this rare disease. Our search brought us to Dr. Trent, an oncologist dedicated to research and patient treatment of GIST with M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas.
Our appointments with Dr. Trent and attendance to various GIST conferences in the US have restored our hope that one day a cure will be found. While we would prefer to see Dr.Trent exclusively, the medical visits and tests in Houston are not covered by health care. To mitigate costs, we have decided to travel to Houston for medical scans and appointments every 6 months. We continue to see our oncologist in Edmonton in between these visits and send all scans and results to Dr. Trent for review and reassessment.
There is huge promise that better treatments will come in the future. A number of promising drugs are entering phase 1 trials this year and hope to revolutionalize the treatment of GIST much like Gleevac has. When it entered the treatment stream in the late 90s, Gleevac was the first drug that significantly inhibited GIST tumor growth and improved tumor management. It is advances such as these that bring life to the thought that there could one day be a cure for Gist and we feel so much comfort being treated by M.D. Anderson, knowing that they are our access point to cutting edge medical technology and GIST treatment.
The funds raised from this event will be held in a trust and go towards:
· Medical costs for various tests, scans, and doctor appointments with leading GIST specialists at M.D. Anderson Cancer Centre in Houston, Texas
· Travel and lodging costs from Edmonton to Houston. Although we require tests and scans every three months, we currently travel to Houston every 6 months due to the related costs.
· Access to cutting edge medical treatments successful at treating GIST (including a significant number of trials that are on the horizon and hold strong promise to treat GIST). These funds will support our ability to access these treatments when they come available.