Angela HowellI was diagnosed with a kit positive GIST cancer on June 10, 2005 at the age of 44. At the time of my diagnosis, I was told that this cancer was a rare and aggressive sarcoma that showed no response to traditional cancer treatment and my prognosis was not good. Life certainly didn’t feel very fair.

I had married my high school sweetheart and this wasn’t what we had mapped out for our life journey. I remember thinking I didn’t have time to be sick. I was the mother of four children ranging from middle school to grad school. I felt helpless and alone.

The only hope that I had to hold onto was an option to participate in a clinical trial of Gleevec. I wasn’t even guaranteed that I would be receiving the medication. It had not been approved by the FDA for treatment yet and this trial was a blind study. I remember thinking I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. So I decided to do it. That was only the beginning of my journey back to the land of the living.

In 2010, I was fortunate to travel to New Jersey and CELEBRATE 10 years of research with the LIFE RAFT Group. Wow, what an amazing trip. We celebrated dinner, fireworks and friendship on the Hudson. I no longer felt alone. I met so many beautiful people and that gave me the hope that we can beat this!

All the hard work and long hours dedicated by all the doctors, researchers, and all the important members of the team have given me back my life. Since my diagnosis,  I have had opportunity to travel to England, France, Ireland, Spain, Italy, New York and New Jersey. I have been here to welcome all of my children’s’ life partners to our family. I am enjoying being a Nana to four precious grandchildren and counting. My most recent addition was just last month. I am 56 and I will celebrate my 36th wedding anniversary  and my 12th Cancerversary in June. I never thought I was going to be here for this. I think it is easy to take life for granted until you come close to losing it, so I celebrate life DAILY!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!