Mum-of-two Emily Travis, 43 was diagnosed with sarcoma five years ago. Despite being given a terminal diagnosis four times, Emily, from Marlborough, Wiltshire, has refused to give up.
Excruciating pain in her abdomen first alerted Emily that something was seriously wrong. But doctors weren’t concerned and at one point she was told it was probably constipation. Finally, in 2014, she was diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma in the cavity above her kidney.
“At the time my daughter was about to start primary school,” recalls Emily. “They said they would operate to remove the tumour but didn’t think they’d be able to get it all out. I was told I was unlikely to see 2015.” Surgery initially appeared successful but at a regular scan in 2016, spots were discovered on her liver. She had three liver tumours removed, but the cancer then spread to her bones.
“Once again the news was devastating,” says Emily. “My prognosis was less than a year.”
[Listen below to Emily's story: The Comeback Kid, an interview with Emily on a day when she travels to London and back to Wiltshire for chemotherapy. Subscribe to I am more than this: A Sarcoma UK podcast.]
Emily was accepted on to a clinical trial where she would receive double therapy with chemotherapy as well as a new targeted treatment that was being evaluated. Her treatment at London’s Royal Marsden Hospital meant lengthy fortnightly trips including a 5am start and she’d sometimes still be there at 9pm. Emily underwent treatments including chemotherapy, radiotherapy and immunotherapy as well as the new drug and microwave ablation. But planned surgery has been cancelled as the disease has further progressed. Emily’s treatment options are now very limited, but she’s trying another chemotherapy drug.
“Sarcoma is a death sentence if it spreads like in my case,” she says. “As sarcomas are so rare, there are few places where you can have treatment. If more people were aware of it, perhaps we could improve the patient journey for those living with this lifelimiting cancer.”
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