On February 6th, 2021, I went to urgent care to see what they could do about a persistent cough. At the time, worse case scenario would be Covid. After a chest x-ray urgent care stopped my exam, refused to prescribe me anything further until I went to the Emergency Room- they've never seen lung x-rays like mine before.
In less than 5hrs I was in an ambulance from the TGH satellite emergency room to Tampa General Hospital downtown.
My two weeks at Tampa General was a whirlwind of tests, questions, and probing.
I was immediately isolated and placed in the ICU in a negative air pressured room, because they wanted to rule out as much as they could- including anything airborne and tuberculosis.
I had Infectuous Disease, Pulmonary, Cardiac, OB/GYN and Oncology teams on my case, with a constant stream of them lined outside my door.
Week one (2/6-2/12) - included a heart procedure where they drained 50oz of fluid that collected around my heart sack (Pericardiocentesis), and 3 biopsies: bone marrow, lung, and cervix.
My case perplexed all the departments, and all the doctors came in with their fellows and residents and all the college students. They took pictures of every step, adding my symptoms to their unique cases.
They asked me questions like if I’ve gone spelunking lately, ever been to the Mississippi River Basin (?!), and everything and anything related to potential lung infections/fungal infections. I tested negative for tuberculosis 3 times and was moved out of the ICU.
Week two (2/13-21) was a waiting game.
The liquid around my heart tested negative, and the bone marrow showed no cancer. However, they found a mass in my cervix and are unsure whether that cancer spread to my lungs or vice versa.
With the advanced spread of the cancer, my last day at Tampa General included my first chemo session.
My schedule is *chemo every 3 weeks*, however I am already OVER a week delayed for my second session because Tampa Gen and Moffitt were having issues approving it via my insurance.
As of today (3/22), both Tampa General and Moffitt Cancer Center are unsure of the specific type of cancer I have. They are unable to 100% rule out any rare cancers, and are cautious on exactly pinpointing where it originated in my body without further treatments. Additionally, my biopsies were sent to various other cancer centers in hopes to have more eyes and labs on my specific illness.
Because of its spread, they are attacking it aggressively with chemo that will affect both my lungs and my cervix- and (for now) are calling it
Stage 4 Squamous Cell Carcinoma.
Every 3 chemo sessions will be a new examination to hopefully figure out exactly what I have, and many details are up in the air- we DO know that surgery is not an option, at this time there is no apparent cure, and my best hope is remission.
The funds raised will go towards my treatments, as I am scheduled at minimum 6 chemo sessions out, ongoing exams, as well as any other medical expenses that will arise. I am currently working as much as I can, however any donations will help lighten the burden on my family and myself.
Other Ways to Help:
Honestly, I am grateful for just being able to share what's going on with me and you taking the time to read a slice of my battle.
If you are unable to donate, please consider sharing my link- or doing anything non-monetary to help any sort of cancer research- a 5k for a cancer you're really passionate about, reaching out to someone in treatment (such as doing groceries for them, errands, taking an hour to do house chores) as our immune system is severely compromised. Every little bit of help, no matter how small, is a gift.
Thank you so much for everything,
- Lisa Winton
- Nisha Thompson
- Liz Gilbert
- JENNIFER QUINN
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