Cancer: Unknown

Hi, I'm Jessi. I'm 35. I'm a wife, a mother of three, a communications professional, and I have cancer. I was originally diagnosed with Cancer of Unknown Primary, and then officially Small Round Cell Sarcoma. The official 5-year survival rate for this diagnosis is less than 5%, but that’s not me. I’m a survivor and I will beat this.

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  • Jessi Stetina

Disease Begets Disease

Updated: Sep 21, 2018


The human body is amazing. There is so much going on, and it all works together so amazingly.


Until it doesn’t.


A major thing this whole ordeal has taught me is that it’s all being held together with hope. One small thing misfires, and it all starts to go down. I’m constantly amazed at cancer itself, the irony of cancer. Cancer, a deadly disease, something that kills many people, is what it is due to its own immortality. In the simplest form, cancer was a healthy cell that forgot to die. As you sit right now, you hardly have any original you at all. All of your cells in your body have gone through a life cycle. With that life cycle is a natural death. Think of skin cells. They die, you exfoliate off. Or at least you should – you’re ashy. Cancer is a cell that was going about its life cycle, and then just kept going. It didn’t die. So it then just keeps doing the thing it knows how to do, which is split and multiply. Then the cells it creates don’t die.


There is a fascinating book that dives into this subject matter more, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Skip ahead if you know this part. Henrietta Lack had a biopsy of cancerous cells done at Johns Hopkins. There is a whole lot of unethical business about what was then done with those cells and the research that follows, but the fact remains that the cells taken from her in 1951 are still growing and being used for research today.


Cancer can kill, but left to its own devices, it won’t die. Like jellyfish and lobsters, as an existence, it is biologically immortal.


I really find that fascinating.


Not to bury the lead here, but in order to share my next point, I must first share that I received some news from my doctor. After much testing and discussion, they feel confident that I have sarcoma, a cancer of soft tissue and bone. This actually has a pretty good prognosis, and I plan on getting into the details of all this after I meet with the sarcoma doctors next week. I just don’t know enough about this to even begin to share, but stay tuned for more news.


I share this now because during that the conversation with my doctor that revealed this info, he dropped on me that I also have sarcoidosis. He said it so casually. “You know you have sarcoidosis, right?” No, I didn’t. I’m not entirely sure I’ve ever heard of sarcoidosis. Apparently the craziness that is going on in my upper lymph nodes is NOT cancer. Which is great news from a metastases perspective. But on the flip side, what?! I have another disease?! And this is apparently what partially collapsed my lung, so it’s not so very mild right now.


Even with the lung thing, my doctor wasn’t keen to focus on the sarcoidosis, which makes sense. I have cancer. That’s probably the thing we’re going to focus on. So off to Google I go! Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease. You have can have severe symptoms, you can have no symptoms. Apparently a lot of people go around with this disease and have NO idea. It can resolve itself, it may never resolve, or you may have to receive treatment and/or medication for it.


Also, it killed Bernie Mac. So that sucks.

What do I do with this info? Well, nothing. Maybe this is something we deal with later on, but right now, I have cancer! Let’s work on that first, and then we’ll get around to this inflammatory disease. The treatment for it can be immunosuppressants, which seems a bad idea to get into prior to chemotherapy.


So I’ve absorbed this information, and you know what I’ve come to? Of course they found another disease! Of course they found something. For the last 4 months, my body has been looked at under a microscope. Literally, pieces of my body are being looked at under a microscope. Maybe right now – I’m apparently pretty famous in the cancer world. But anyone being looked at this level of scrutiny is going to be given a whole page of diseases! We’re all full of them! Most of us just have managed to live with them. Right now I’m up to five. FIVE. In order of diagnosis, we have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Hypothyroidism, Anemia, Cancer, and now Sarcoidosis. I’m probably nowhere near done, either.


I also suspect I have Bonus Eruptus.

I was trying to do a little research on this to get a ballpark on just how many known diseases and disorders there are, and you know what? It’s a metric fuck-ton. At least over 100,000, and that appears to be low-balling it.


Let me be clear – I’m not saying that anyone has cancer without knowing it. Well, I mean, sure, some people do. I did until May! I’m just sharing that having one disease may seem like it leads to more diseases, when in fact, it’s just actually uncovering what was already there. There is a huge difference between a deadly disease and an inconvenience, but why live life inconvenienced? If something feels off, see someone. And then get a second opinion. And a third. Don’t become a hypochondriac, but there is legit a lot that can and will go wrong in the human body, and you have a right to know what’s going on.


Even you peasants who aren’t famous in the cancer world. ;-)

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