Learning to Live: The Balancing Act


By Felicia Temple

On a Tuesday night after working a 16 hour shift, I walked into the Emergency Department with complaints of unbearable epigastric pain and vomiting that had lasted for 3 days. I had no idea that my life would never be the same. They did routine blood and urine, and after everything came up normal, they pegged it all on gastritis and were content with sending me home. Being a nurse, I knew something was wrong and asked would they do me a favor and do a CT scan just in case. Thank goodness the Physician's Assistant said yes. To everyone's surprise, it showed I had an early appendicitis, and hours later I had my appendix removed. I left the hospital the next day and was feeling great.

A few days later, I got a phone call from the surgeon himself, telling me that I did not have an appendicitis, but that I had a carcinoid tumor in my appendix and that I would need to have the right side of my colon removed. I was terrified and upset, as I felt he should have called me into the office to give that kind of news. After I settled with the news, I was scheduled for a multitude of tests and specialized scans, then scheduled for surgery. I had my right hemicolectomy done in August 2015. At this point, I had seen 2 surgeons and no one suggested seeing an oncologist, stating that there was no need because there was no treatment other than surgery.

At the urging of my mom, I scheduled an appointment with a physician who does research about carcinoid tumors and found out to my surprise that there was treatment. I was started on oral chemotherapy as well as monthly somatostatin analog injections. After 6 rounds I was cleared to stop chemotherapy and my scans have been all clear since then. It was a super rocky road and I'm still under supervision, but I'm glad that the worst of it is behind me.