Tess went into the
hospital with abdominal pain in December 2008, and the CT scan showed
a ruptured appendix. After surgery and ten days in the hospital, she
was given a shocking diagnosis especially given her age (38): she has
Pseudomyxoma peritonei (called PMP for short), an extremely rare
cancer thought to originate in the appendix, which attacks the
During what was
supposed to be just an appendectomy, her appendix, caecum, part of
the omentum, and 15" of her large intestine were removed.
Further surgery was required to remove more organs, and to flood her
abdomen with a heated chemotherapy wash. This is called the
'Sugarbaker technique' and is the only known treatment for PMP.
The surgery was
performed by Dr. Jeffrey Sussman of the Barrett Cancer Center, at
University of Cincinnati Hospital, on July 13, 2009. Surgery went
better than expected, and was much shorter in duration as well (about
six hours). Dr. Sussman said Tess was "relatively early on in
the disease process" and he was confident he cleared out all the
tumor. What remains is to watch and wait for recurrence, of which
there is about a 50% chance. Periodic CT scans are the way to
determine if the cancer has come back.
in every million people have PMP. It's what is known as an 'orphan
disease' -- in other words, so few people have it that there is
little financial gain in studying it, therefore not much is known
about it. Being diagnosed with it is much like hitting the
Tess is doing okay
at the moment, but is suffering from ill health in secondary forms --
severe symptoms of premature menopause, plus depression, anxiety,
agoraphobia, frequent digestive upsets, and chronic pain of various kinds.
The future of the
business specifically is uncertain at this point, due to the disaster
the situation poses to Tess's financial situation. (No health
insurance.) But updates will be posted here regarding any news.