Imagine being told you’ve been diagnosed with cancer and only have 9 months to live. It’s just like a cold shower draining you of energy. Do you feel hopelessness settling in and making you inert? Do you resign yourself to your fate and spending the last moments with the family and loved one? Or do you fight? For yourself, for your children, for one more minute, for life…
This is what Elise Tedeschi chose to do!
Back in 2011, Elise started complaining about back pain. Epidurals, muscle relaxers, pain management courses, acupuncture, nothing worked. More tests, more treatments, same result. Finally, a CT scan revealed the cause – a large mass had developed on and around her pancreas. Because it was wrapped around a major artery, surgery was not an option. Chemotherapy was the only way.
Genetic testing revealed that both she and her mother, Sandi, were BRCA-positive, meaning proteins responsible for DNA repair were damaged, making them particularly susceptible to tumors. In fact, Sandi passed away from bile duct cancer in 2016. Another terrible blow.
At the Moffitt Cancer Center, Elise had to endure 12 courses of chemotherapy, including 4 doses of Folfirinox, one of the strongest anticancer drugs. 25 rounds of radiation followed, and the pain was getting progressively worse. She had to undergo a celiac plexus block, where medication is injected directly into the spine, just to be able to carry on day after day.
By 2012, Elise had lost all her hair, weighed only 89 pounds, suffered severe neuropathy and lived with a constant taste of metal (side effect of chemo). In October, when she went back to Moffitt, doctors were amazed. Not by her physical appearance, but by the PET scans that showed no more active cancer.
Eventually, she traveled to the University of Louisville, where Dr. Robert Martin successfully operated on her with NanoKnife, a novel and minimally invasive method that uses microwave energy to resect difficult to reach tumors.
Not only did Elise fight a disease that generally kills more than 70% of people in the first year, but she never had any doubt or thought about giving up in the process.
Now, six years later, Elsie lives a normal life along with husband Patrick and their two boys, Jake and Ryan. More so, she is a testament to how important are persevering and believing in yourself!