I guess you can say it was a stroke of luck that my bile duct cancer was picked up when it was. Following a random blood test with my GP showing extremely raised liver enzymes, I was immediately referred to hospital to see a hepato-biliary consultant. After 11 months of investigations, a few scans and ERCP's, a small lesion was found in my bile duct and I was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma. This was in June 2018. I was scheduled for a liver resection in Oct 18, however this was aborted when my surgeon noticed specs on my stomach lining that tested positive for CC whilst I was in surgery.
I started with 8 months of chemotherapy which kept my cancer at bay but 6 weeks later, the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes. A further biopsy revealed that my cancer cells tested positive for the HER2 receptor and I have been on Immunotherapy treatment since.
I have had a few bumps in the road along the way and the side effects of the cancer and the treatments have had me bed bound at times but when I am well, I live life to the full. I am married and have 2 boys, age 12 and 15 and as a family, we love to travel. I have always kept a strong and positive mindset and have the attitude not to waste time worrying about things that are out of my control. Having an excellent and robust medical team behind me has helped with this. My oncologist, Dr Wasan, is one of the top in his field, researching constantly, speaking in conferences, keeping up with the latest research and new trials that are coming out all over the world. I trust Dr Wasan 100% that he is doing everything in his power to keep his patients in the best and latest treatment, travelling worldwide to attend cholangio conferences to ensure we are always up to date with new developments. My nurses have been amazing and have seen me as Sal before a cancer patient. They keep a close eye on me and are available 24/7 to ensure my pain and symptoms are manageable and under control.
I eat well and exercise when I can but do not stress when I can't. I have joined a couple of patient groups on social media where I get a lot of support and am able to support others going through the same thing.
I write a lot and share my story on a blog, mybeautifullife.org. This started out to just keep friends and family informed of my treatment but soon became a vital support tool. Friends and family knew when extra help was needed with the boys or for food without me having to ring around.
I had breast cancer in 2013 at the age of 36. I was diagnosed with stage 4 CC at the age of 41. I never thought that I would get another cancer or if one could survive a second cancer. I feel blessed and grateful that I have just celebrated my 43rd birthday. Although hard at times, I keep my mind strong. If I crumble, my whole family crumbles.
I have everything to live for and do everything I can to keep my mind and body as strong as I can. I keep myself busy by organising fundraising events and raising awareness for CC and AMMF. I am grateful for all the support I have received and continue toreceive along the way.