Aunt Joanie

How do you fight something that you had no idea exists? How do you figure out you have cancer if there are no symptoms?

This past Spring Break while I was in Belize on a school service project, my Aunt Joanie went to the doctor to have her Gallbladder removed. It was nothing serious, a normal out patient procedure, but they spotted something funny on her ovaries. They originally thought it was Ovarian cancer, but after looking into it further they realized it was a very rare cancer that formed in her appendix. It’s called PMP and I hate it. A few details are below:

“Pseudomyxoma peritonei (PMP) is defined by the presence of acellular mucin within the abdominal cavity. The most common presentation of PMP is a mucin-producing tumor of the appendix whose cells have spread outside the appendix and into the abdominal cavity. The resulting tumor, which looks like orange jelly, can get as large as 20-30 pounds.

There are no PMP-specific symptoms.”

My aunt’s orange jelly weighed about as much as it can. Her surgery was 14 hours, the longest they have ever had. Over 13 pounds of her internal organs where removed, because they all showed signs of cancer. Her stay in MD Anderson after the surgery was 3 1/2 weeks. The ratio of good days to bad is about 1 to 6. Her recovery still continues.

My aunt is a fighter. She’s keeping her faith and keeping her strength. And we have to too; her battle is being fought through all of us.

- Katie Koehler