On December 7th, I will celebrate my 17th cancerversary. I was just 22 years old and newly married when I was diagnosed with GIST following surgery. At that time Gleevec was still in clinical trials and we knew that I would likely benefit from it, but I did not qualify for the trials since I had just had surgery. Thanks to my doctors who pushed to get Gleevec through a compassionate use program, I was able to start on Gleevec in March of 2001. I am forever grateful for being able to tolerate Gleevec well and for it to give me 12 1/2 years of being cancer free. After Gleevec, I was on Sutent for two years and then Stivarga for two years. Now, I am very excited about the hope of several promising new drugs in clinical trials. I am so thankful for the time each of these drugs has given me and I pray for continued developments in new treatments and eventually a cure for GIST.
This 17-year journey has shown me that God’s timing and plans are always perfect even when I don’t understand them at the time. He has provided new drugs each time I needed them, guided me through multiple surgeries, and placed family and friends in my life to help support me along the way. I am grateful for each and every day I get to spend with my family, especially my 10-year old daughter. GIST has taught me so many things early on in life, but most importantly to focus on the positive things in every situation. Thanks to the Life Raft Group for being a tremendous resource to me and my family from the beginning in 2000. Your educational resources have helped me to make treatment decisions along the way and educated me about GIST through the years.