Irasema Chavez is an inspiring survivor of stomach cancer , a recurrence of stomach cancer and breast cancer. She reflects on her experience facing both of these serious diagnoses before the age of 40 without any genetic known mutations.�

stomach-cancerEarly Symptoms & Stomach Cancer Diagnosis

I learned that I had stomach cancer in May of 2015. Leading up to my diagnosis, I had a host of stomach and digestive issues – I was basically living off of Prilosec. When I stopped taking it, my symptoms flared up terribly, and I couldn�t manage. My wife ultimately set up an appointment with a GI doctor on my behalf. He told me that he didn�t like what he was seeing. A healthy, strong 34-year-old with no significant medical history shouldn�t have been suffering the way I was.�

We decided to move forward with an endoscopy in hopes of getting answers. The pathology revealed that I had stomach cancer – adenocarcinoma. I was shocked by the news; cancer was the last possibility on my mind.�

My Treatment Plan�

Once we knew that I was facing cancer, my medical team acted quickly. I had a partial gastrectomy in June 2015 followed by three rounds of chemotherapy, 25 rounds of radiation, and three more rounds of chemo. At the time, this was all that I needed to get my NED (no evidence of disease). Of course, I was thrilled to be cancer-free.�

Stomach Cancer Recurrence & Total Gastrectomy�

Eight months later, I had a routine endoscopy that revealed my cancer was back. Thankfully, it was localized within my stomach. I went in for yet another surgery. This time, they removed my entire stomach and declared me NED again when my scans were clear after the procedure.�

stomach-cancerFacing Breast Cancer�

Getting diagnosed with cancer once is life-changing, but receiving the diagnosis twice is practically incomprehensible. I discovered that I had breast cancer in August of 2020 after six years of being cancer-free.�

I started an aggressive course of treatment and surgery that included a double mastectomy and reconstructive breast surgery. Since the cancer was invasive, I endured 12 rounds of chemotherapy and 30 radiation treatments. Further, we learned that I was HER2+, so I had one year of targeted treatment. I completed various genetic tests, but nothing indicated that I was predisposed to stomach cancer, breast cancer, or really any form of this disease. I just call myself �lucky� because it�s a complete mystery!

Advice & Hope for the Future�

Today, I�m thankful to be doing well physically. These diseases have certainly taken a mental toll, and I�m doing my best to take care of my mind and body. Cancer will always remind you that life shouldn�t be taken for granted.�

My hope is that someone who is just starting their stomach cancer journey can take strength from my story. You can still live a full and satisfying life, even without a stomach. I do all the same things that I�ve always enjoyed and I still eat what I love, although I watch my portions. I�m thriving, with or without a stomach!�