Tracy Lewis writes: “On November 3, I’ll be walking with others at Pine Lake Preparatory in Mooresville, NC in memory of my younger sister, Melissa, who was diagnosed with stomach cancer just shy of her 30th birthday. Unfortunately, Melissa passed May 24, 2009, just ten months after being diagnosed. She had experienced generalized stomach pain for a couple of years that progressively worsened to the point of not being able to keep food down. Even though she had sought medical care, she was not diagnosed until the later stages of the disease. While cancer runs on our father’s side of the family, no one had ever been diagnosed with stomach cancer.
Melissa and I were eight years apart and not very close growing up due to our age difference. After high school, she went to college and lived a couple hours away until she was diagnosed. After her diagnosis, we became closer and she would often times spend weekends at my house and ride with me on Monday mornings to the oncology office where I work to receive her chemotherapy. Due to my work in the medical field, I spent a lot of time researching any information I could for the latest treatments and sharing what I found with my sister’s oncologist; my boss.
Because of my sister’s late diagnosis and the incomplete testing she received prior to being diagnosed (an incomplete endoscopy due to a stomach full of food that the GI doctor said was ‘slow digestion’), I have a special interest in raising more awareness among the medical community. I also urge all patients and their families to be their own healthcare advocates; to do their own research and bring it to their doctor’s attention. Physicians are so busy these days and it can be difficult to stay current on the latest treatments and tests as they emerge.
While my sister’s tumor tested negative for the CDH1 mutation, I still worry about the possibility of stomach cancer in other family members or myself. It’s hard not to when it seems to strike so randomly to someone so young.”
On Nov. 3, people around the world will be walking with you, Tracy, in honor of your sister Melissa. For stomach cancer patients around the world like Melissa, let’s raise awareness so advancements can be made towards earlier diagnosis and better treatments for all forms of stomach cancer, hereditary or otherwise. Join us!
Suzie Chelcun is organizing the Walk in the Charlotte Area. Read more: Huntersville family will walk for stomach cancer awareness.