Hoping To Beat Cancer

Hello, my name is Michelle Grate.  I will be 47 years old today, on June 28, 2017.  I have been an X-ray technologist since 2004, a MRI technologist since 2011 and a CT technologist since 2014.

I have three children aged 16 1/2, 18, and 21, they are my complete heart!  My kids are aware of everything except my prognosis, they have a lot going on and I don't want to burden them with that.  

Here is my story:

I started having symptoms (hematuria incontinence) throughout the night on May 4-5, 2017.  I went to my primary care physician on the following Monday and he could not figure out what was going on.  I was then referred to a Urologist and she could not figure it out either.  She ordered a CT IVP scan (which produces cross-sectional images of bones, organs and tissue that are used to diagnose medical conditions) to try and figure out.  

I had went for my CT before work on May 12, 2017.  1 1/2 hours into my shift the Radiologist went over the scan with me.  He told me I have a large 9cm mass in my pelvis, between my rectum and vaginal wall, with possible invasion of the vaginal wall. I also have a 4 1/2cm mass between my liver and pancreas which is lymph node metastasis.  In addition, I also have 2 masses in my liver, 1 1/2cm and 2 1/2cm.  

It took two weeks to see the Oncologist, a few days after that I had a liver biopsy.  The doctor wanted to see if it was a recurrence from a rectal lesion I had in 2013, or if it was something new.

I went back to the Oncologist on June 16, 2017 to get my results.  They are as follows:

I am very upset! The cancer I had is back. It is a recurrence of the squamous cell carcinoma I had in 2013.  The Oncologist said the mass in my pelvis is probably a lymph node that has just grown to be huge.  That mass is pushing on both my bladder and rectum causing discomfort.  

The plan of care is to have 2-4 weeks of radiation treatment 5 days a week while taking chemo pills every day of treatment in the morning and at night.  After that, I will get another CT scan to make sure the cancer hasn't spread anywhere else, and I will get a port put in with IV chemo therapy to follow.

Prognosis for all of this is:  worst case scenario 3-6 months, possibly a year.  Best case scenario is 5-10yrs.

I am told it is very rare to have a squamous cell carcinoma recurrence.

Back in 2013 I had the rectal lesion removed surgically, only having physical exams afterward.  They assured me they got it all, 4 yrs later, I am here dealing with it again.

My primary care Physician is Dr Sanusi of Charlottesville, VA- I couldn't have a better primary doctor.

My Oncologist is Dr Tri Le with the Emily Couric Cancer Center at UVA Medical Center in Charlottesville, VA.  He also is an amazing Doctor and has outstanding bedside manners.

I worry about my children more than I worry about myself! I am in need of these funds due to my insurance. I want to be able to get the absolute best care possible, that is why I chose UVA for my care.  

My insurance is through HCA, and they try to trap you into their network.  I will have to pay 75% of my chemo and radiation treatments because UVA Medical Center is not under the HCA umbrella, HCA does not have as good of a Oncology department.  I want the best care possible when it comes to this kinda of decision for my healthcare, just as I'm sure anyone would.

 Thank you fron the bottom of my heart for your generousity and support.
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Organizer and beneficiary

Shana Overhulser 
Fort Myers, FL
Michelle Grate