In November 2000, just after her 16th wedding anniversary with husband, Michael, Elsie Hernandez’s CT scan showed a mass that appeared to be pancreatic cancer; immediate surgery was needed. Elsie, a mathematician, told her students at the Technological Institute in Costa Rica that she had to leave, accepted her colleagues’ well-wishes and scheduled her tumor removal. A week later she had a diagnosis: GIST.
For Peter Greenwood, a successful freelance illustrator, GIST is a burden and a tool. Like most GIST patients he feels the pressure of scans and occasional hopelessness. But despite all of this, Peter has found ways to use GIST to his advantage, to use it for inspiration by using his illustrations as tools to fight GIST
I traded in uniforms and business attire for comfort clothes. I could no longer keep pace with the meetings and travel commitments of my job. My travel now includes only visits to Dana-Farber and my time away from home is dictated by my energy level, nausea, diarrhea and heartburn. My appointments to get my hair done, a manicure, pedicure and facial have been replaced with appointments with my local oncologist for blood work, ultrasounds, etc., as well as counseling sessions.
It all started shortly after my 36th birthday in February 2001. I was working for a small oil company as a tanker driver here in Medford, Ore. I began to develop severe pain in my lower right quadrant and lack of energy that I ignored until I could no longer justify not seeking medical attention.