September 24, 2019
In her 40s, Trisha Hill battled painful gastrointestinal issues. She had colonoscopies and endoscopies at another medical facility in the Kansas City area. She says that physicians were unable to pinpoint the cause of her abdominal discomfort.
Finally, Trisha went back to her primary care physician Pamela Weinhold, MD, an internal medicine specialist at The University of Kansas Health System.
“She tapped on my stomach, said it was rock-hard and sent me for a CT scan,” says Trisha.
The diagnosis was ovarian cancer. Trisha met with gynecologic oncologist Julia Chapman, MD. She suspected something even more sinister than ovarian cancer. Dr. Chapman requested lab work, genetic testing and another colonoscopy. Ovarian cancer remained the only clear diagnosis.
On June 3, 2016, Dr. Chapman removed Trisha’s ovaries and performed a total hysterectomy. During surgery, the cancer team discovered the real culprit – appendiceal cancer. Trisha’s appendix had burst, spreading cancer to the ovaries, colon and lymph nodes.
“Trisha has the rarest and most aggressive type of appendiceal cancer. It’s called signet ring cell carcinoma,” explains surgical oncologist Mazin Al-kasspooles, MD.
He prescribed systemic chemotherapy followed by CRS-HIPEC surgery. For 10 months, Trisha was cancer-free.
But a follow-up CT scan revealed cancer had recurred where Trisha’s appendix had been. In January 2018, Dr. Al-kasspooles scheduled a second CRS-HIPEC procedure.
“I was not as worried the second time because I knew what to expect,” she says. “And I trusted Dr. Al-kasspooles.”
During the second CRS-HIPEC, the surgical team removed all the new tumors and 1 lymph node. Once again, Trisha’s abdominal cavity was filled with warm chemotherapy.
Because signet ring cell carcinoma is so aggressive, Dr. Al-kasspooles prescribed several rounds of traditional chemotherapy after surgery.
In early 2019, Trisha was thrilled to celebrate her 50th birthday and relieved to be off chemotherapy for 5 months.
“I’m feeling almost normal now. My hair is getting thicker, my skin tone is better and I’m coming out of my chemo fog,” she says.
Dr. Al-kasspooles wants more physicians throughout Kansas and western Missouri to understand appendiceal cancer and the value of CRS-HIPEC for patients like Trisha.
“I’m here because of Dr. Al-kasspooles,” she says. “He saved my life.”
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