In the Spring of 2013, Lana was experiencing stomach pain, bloating, and cramping. She dismissed those symptoms initially, and just happened to mention them to her primary care doctor during an unrelated visit. Because of her family history of colon cancer and having had a previous battle with cervical cancer, she was referred to the James Graham Brown Center for additional testing. That began her long and painful journey and fight for her life.
In late 2013, Lana had emergency surgery to remove a mass in her colon. That surgery was followed by multiple surgeries, two separate chemotherapies, and regular blood transfusions to fight recurrent tumors. In the Spring of 2014, Lana was diagnosed with Lynch Syndrome, a genetic condition that increases the risk of developing a host of cancers, including colon cancer. By June of 2016, chemotherapy was no longer working and was being stopped. “I was 45 years old and dying” said Lana.
Because of her diagnosis of Lynch Syndrome, Lana was offered a spot in a clinical trial for the immunotherapy drug, Keytruda. “I agreed, though I honestly didn’t have hope that it would make a difference for me. I signed up because I thought maybe what doctors learned from my participation might help save someone’s life in the future” said Lana. In June of 2016, Lana began receiving Keytruda and started to improve immediately. She remained on the drug for two years, completing the trial in June of 2018. Today, Lana’s cancer is not detectable in scans or exams, her cancer tumor marker numbers have remained in normal range, and is in remission.
In September 2020, Lana joined the Colon Cancer Prevention Project’s Survivor Support Group. “Joining was one of the best decisions I ever made. I wish I had joined so much sooner, but I was delayed by fear of talking out loud to strangers. Those strangers very quickly turned into an amazing support system and friends for life. They make my heart feel so full. I struggle with survivor’s guilt, sometimes questioning why I survived and others didn’t. I am hopeful that one day, the miracle that I was given will be available to every person fighting cancer” said Lana. Lana is so grateful for the love and support of her husband, Tim, her friends, medical teams, and her faith. Today, she works hard to make sure others can find warmth and support through her work with the Colon Cancer Prevention Project.
To learn more about our survivor support group community in Louisville, please contact our group leader Renee Lewis at email@example.com.