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In 2014, Linda Dreyer was told she had exhausted all treatment options available for a very rare form of bladder cancer and that she only had months to live. The grandmother of six from Westland was offered the opportunity to participate in a new clinical trial for immunotherapy -- the therapy used to treat President Jimmy Carter.
Nearly 7 years ago I had a feeling that something just wasn’t right and then I found blood in my urine. My doctor referred me to urologists who quickly ordered a CAT scan. The technician could not find my kidney because the urethral tube was so blocked by the tumor and the dye could not pass through.
I immediately met with a team of Henry Ford urologists and oncologists and it was determined that I needed my kidney and the tumor removed -- it was cancer.
My cancer is so rare that most doctors do not see it in their careers. Urethral cancer is found in the tube that connects the kidney to the bladder. My doctor said he was finding cancer in my bladder and near my liver as well. I underwent chemotherapy and radiation followed by more chemotherapy and radiation to fight the cancer.
After a three year battle with the rare cancer, I was told I had exhausted all treatment options and that I only had a few months to live. That was now two years ago - before being offered a clinical trial using a new drug to help my own immune system fight back. I was leery at first but I thought I should give it a shot to help advance the research and at that point, I had nothing else to lose.
I had to go through a series of blood tests and the researchers took samples of the tumor in order to determine if I was a candidate for this immunotherapy. Once I started treatments, I had CAT scans every six weeks which immediately showed promising results. I was responding to the treatment!
When they show me the CAT scans now, I can’t even see the tumors. My cancer is not gone, but it is being managed. And fortunately, I haven’t experienced any side effects. I don’t feel like I have cancer anymore.
I am the proud mother of two and grandmother to six. I am thankful for each day that I have with them. Every single day is a gift. Every single cloud, every star - I notice everything. I have now celebrated two birthdays I wasn’t supposed to. Birthdays have been a huge celebration. Nurses and staff have brought in cookies during my treatments which I pass out to other patients having treatment as well
People say ‘You have to have chemo on your birthday?’ Yes, Chemo is why I’m having this birthday -- I’m not supposed to be here.