“I knew from the beginning that giving up wasn’t an option for me. I have grandkids that I want to see graduate. I want to be around to grow old with my husband, who has been my rock.
”Kathi Morris had never been sick a day in her life – but that all changed in late October of 2015. After weeks of dealing with excruciating hip pain, Kathi scheduled a visit with her primary care physician for an x-ray – an x-ray that appeared normal – and was sent home with medication to ease the pain. A couple weeks later, however, she informed her co-worker of a significant increase in pain accompanied by sudden migraines, dizziness, blurred vision and auras, which led her to call an ambulance. Despite the initial assessment of Kathi’s vital signs being normal, in a matter of the ten minutes it took to arrive at the hospital, Kathi began to have a seizure – a seizure that possibly saved her life.
Initial testing and imaging results revealed to the Emergency Room physicians that Kathi’s seizure was the result of increased intracranial pressure due to a brain tumor. The following week, Kathi underwent a craniotomy to remove the brain tumor – a tumor which pathology tests proved to be malignant. Following further evaluation, physicians discovered the cancer was in fact Stage 4 Non-Small Cell Carcinoma that originated in her lung and had metastasized to both her brain and hip.
Kathi proceeded to undergo five rounds of radiotherapy to treat the pain in her hip coupled with one radiation treatment to her brain to clear the abscess from the craniotomy. Her Medical Oncologist at the time, recommended a treatment plan that included several rounds of radiation on her affected lung. After researching the side effects of this course of treatment, Kathi refused to continue with this course of action because of the possible side effects, which included the potential for severe burns to her throat and chest areas. Kathi’s medical oncologist gave her a life expectancy prognosis of six months if she chose to forgo the radiation treatment. After much thought and prayer, she decided to take a friend’s advice to seek a second opinion from a Medical Oncologist at West Cancer Center.
At Kathi’s first consultation with Gary Tian, MD, a Medical Oncologist at West Cancer Center, she immediately felt like she was at the right place. Dr. Tian’s recommended treatment plan didn’t require radiation to her lungs; instead, he wanted to put her on a clinical trial. “From the moment I met Dr. Tian, I trusted him to guide my cancer journey and he will always be very special to me,” said Kathi. “He listened to my concerns and he devised an individualized treatment plan for me while explaining every aspect along the way.”
Following four rounds of an experimental chemotherapy drug, scans showed no evidence of disease and Kathi is now in remission. Every three weeks, she receives a 30-minute drip infusion of Avastin and a CT scan every two months. “Despite the remaining side effects from different treatments, I consider myself very lucky,” said Kathi. “There are so many more blessings I could tell you about my journey and current situation than I could tell you about the bad.”
Kathi’s treatment plan requires her to continue maintenance therapy – an aspect that allows her to spend time with other fighters; time that allows her to comfort, encourage and give them the same strength she once needed in the fight for her life. “I want others to know that they aren’t alone,” says Kathi. “That I know what they are feeling.”
Now in remission and looking forward to a life cancer free, Kathi participated in Fight On: Cycle, Run, Walk’s Tribute Walk in September 2016. “I walked with around 440 other people and I finished in 439thplace – but I still finished. And it was great,” said Kathi.
Meet Our Fighters
These are real stories of bravery, the chronicles of men and women who found the strength to fight on and the people who stood by them. West Cancer Center brings the very best technology, research and doctors to Memphis so patients can recover close to home. To read more stories like Kathi’s, click here.
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With every fighter there is a story, and with every story, an inspiration to fight on. Your story can be the difference in the life of another cancer fighter like you. We invite patients of the West Cancer Center, past and present, to share stories here. If you would like to share your story, please contact West Cancer Center’s Marketing Department.