I'm Alexis and this is my story
I was rather ill for about a year, before the first time I was rushed to the emergency rooms. I was only 20 years old, and I found that I would have the urge to throw up anywhere (even in plastic bags in my car) and had these extremely hot flushes.
It was beyond overwhelming, I felt like a lab rat, every doctor wanting to have a look at this ultra-rare liver cancer called Fibrolamellar Hepatocellular Carcinoma. It’s an unpredictable disease that does not behave like any other liver cancer. The tumour was massive, 6 x 11 cm and the odds were against me.
In March 2006, Professor Ramos removed my tumour and we all had high hopes that this was the end of my cancer journey. Sadly, it was not. In September 2006 we discovered that the cancer had spread rapidly. My gift for my 21stbirthday was my first round of chemo.
One oncologist gave me less than 9 months to live – I wasn’t ready to leave this world. I found the most incredible oncologist. Dr Bezwoda and his implausible team pushed me every step of the way. I was on various chemotherapy treatments until 2014. I was not in remission, but I was extremely thin and ill, and it was decided that Professor Ramos would cut out the remaining tumours to give me a better quality of life.
Almost yearly a new tumour would emerge, and I would be incredibly ill. After every surgery it was as though the cancer was “here today, gone tomorrow.”
In 2021 I had a dull pain in my lower back on the left. The tumour had invaded my adrenal gland and unfortunately, I lost my left kidney as well during surgery. My remaining kidney has an e GFR of about 24 which is not fantastic, but I could cope.
It is now in 2022 that two more tumours have been discovered and I don’t believe my body can handle anymore surgeries. I have the option of immunotherapy now. Once I am in remission, I will need a kidney transplant. This is daunting!
Cancer really does turn your entire life upside down. I was incredibly hard and unforgiving on myself for the first 6 or 7 years. Now I show emotion when the big “C” creeps up and plays tricks with my beautiful journey in life.
The cancer I have affects approximately 200 people per year, with an incredibly high mortality rate. After 17 years I still stand strong and I don’t know what sets me apart from those that did not survive. What I do know, is that I wouldn’t change my life for anyone else’s. This is my journey, and it really has been incredible.
Cancer is a part of my life, but it’s not my whole life. When days seem dark, I know to hang on – to see the sunrise yet again. Another day I have conquered.