Woman Diagnosed With Mesothelioma Gets New Results
WCVB TheBostonChannel.com, January 7, 2005
After chronicling the life of a young Haverhill, Mass., woman diagnosed with an especially deadly form of cancer, there's some incredible news to report.
NewsCenter 5's Heather Unruh reported that Karen Grant was given just months to live, but she and her doctors refused to give up.
Karen Grant breathed her first sigh of relief in September. She'd made it through two major surgeries, and was finally off the ventilator. But the challenge wasn't over -- not by a long shot.
"I'm not going to give up. I can't give up," Grant said.
When NewsCenter 5 first met her she was 29 and wasn't about to let mesothelioma win. The rare cancer is caused by asbestos. She has no idea where she was exposed. She does know she's the youngest person ever documented to have it in both lungs -- a dismal diagnosis.
"In the context of this disease, she would be considered to be untreatable," said Brigham and Women's Hospital Dr. David Sugarbaker.
But Sugarbaker had hope. A risky surgery he'd performed on one lung before -- but never two. It involves carefully cutting away the tumor and then lasering the tissue to burn away cancer cells too tiny to see. Then, he fills the chest cavity with a hot chemotherapy solution. Grant knew the operation alone could kill her, but she had nothing to lose.
"It is really an aggressive, experimental therapy. It's on the cutting edge and no one can really tell her what the outcome will be. She's a pioneer," Sugarbaker said.
The recovery was long and exhausting. Grant was hospitalized all summer. She often wondered if she'd make it home.
"I made it home. I made it home," Grant said.
Even months of difficult chemotherapy couldn't shake Grant's resolve. She believed she would win the fight.
"When you think positive, good things happen," Grant said.
Then, last week, an entire year of uncertainty came down to a few seconds, as she held her breath to see what her chest scan would reveal. The results astonished everyone.
The reason I'm smiling is because it was announced to me last Thursday. I am cancer-free, and when the doctor told me, I was just -- I couldn't believe it. I was so happy," Grant said.
Sugarbaker said it's miraculous.
"At first I double checked to make sure they were hers. We cannot detect any cancer cells," Sugarbaker said.
No one's calling it a cure -- not yet. But for Grant and husband Geoff Grant it's a new beginning.
"I'm going to live. I'm going to live! I'm not going to worry about if my life is going to be cut short now. I don't have to live that fear," Grant said.
To receive a FREE Mesothelioma Web information packet** or to make a request, please fill out the following form :