Brenda Bannon of Berne, New York, calls her 10-year cancerversary more of a marker or a stepping stone than a celebration. A stepping stone to a cure.
“We get closer to a cure every year,” she says. “I want to be able to tell my children there’s a cure. It’s a hard fight, but we keep on trying.” She says LRG executive director Norman Scherzer is “like a general in our army.”
Brenda remembers the day when she made her first post to the Life Raft Group listserv and immediately connected with another GISTer, who told her “you and I are going to outlive this.” The 46-year-old mother of three children, ages 11, 15 and 18, plans to do just that. She’ll turn 47 on April 15th. Her goal is to live until she’s 90.
In June, she’ll watch her oldest child, Matthew, graduate from high school, something that seemed nearly impossible when she was first diagnosed with GIST in March 2002. She says her children have become her best caregivers. She also gets support from relatives, co-workers, church and, of course, fellow GISTers.
She’s been on several different drug treatments, including Gleevec, Sutent, Tasigna and Nexavar, and has participated in a clinical trial. She says her best response has been to Sutent, which she is currently taking. Brenda is diagnosed with wild-type GIST.
Because of the tumors in her liver, Brenda says she has coped with “looking nine-months pregnant” for the past 10 years. “There can be an advantage to that,” she says ironically, pointing out how strangers are often kind to her.