Mary Marre says her daughter Meghan was diagnosed with GIST in the fall of 2002, just a few weeks before her 21st birthday. All through high school Meghan was anemic; she was also plagued with stomach problems. Each time a doctor would say it was heavy periods, ulcers, heartburn and the like … this to a child who outwardly seemed so healthy. She played varsity sports all through high school and was very active.
She began having more stomach problems, including some visits to the ER. It was finally recommended that she have a gastrointestinal scope in September 2002. That was when her tumor was found.
Meghan had a partial resection of her stomach in 2002. We were told to go home and see the oncologist in three months. Fortunately, we learned of Dr. Charles Blanke and immediately made an appointment to see him. The cancer had already metastasized into her liver at this point. Meghan began taking 600 mg. of Gleevec and there was immediate shrinkage!
At the time, Meghan was still recovering from the surgery and taking the medicine was difficult. Meghan tolerated the gel capsules fairly well but when Novartis went to the solid tablet, Meghan could not keep them down. We literally tried everything known to man — I bought gel caps and crushed the pills, made a suspension with juice, mixed it with food, etc. We worked with a pharmacist at OHSU but to no avail. Meghan continued to try to take the meds and the cancer began to grow again.
In March of 2005, Dr. Blanke told us that Gleevec had failed and that Meghan was going to be in the Sutent trial! We were so excited and hopeful!! The drug has been an answer to prayers. Meghan began to take the drug and immediately found that it did not make her feel nauseous. This is such a huge improvement for her and her quality of life! There are side effects, but in Meghan’s view they are nothing compared to Gleevec. One of the side effects is unpredictable and prolonged periods. Meghan is taking a birth control hormone to counteract this somewhat. She also has significant problems with muscle spasms and body aches which OHSU monitors.
In December 2005 Meghan’s scan showed no growth and possible shrinkage, we are so grateful. This coming only three months after Meghan had worrisome areas of growth.
At this point, life is pretty good. Meghan is enjoying relatively good health and the drug is working. She is having fun working part time, owning her first car and just enjoying being 24.