How Vivan Therapeutics is becoming part of my treatment journey
Published by Jen Litton, stage IV colon cancer patient on
My name is Jen Litton. I'm 39 years old. Married to the love of my life with 5 cats, a pug named Mia, and a golden doodle named Fritz. Cancer was never a word that found its way into my vocabulary. No one in my family had suffered with cancer and few people I knew had been diagnosed. My whole life I spent worried about my heart and heart disease because that is what I saw most people around me suffer from most often. To combat this, I did what I needed. I worked out. I did Peloton spin classes. I ate organic and gluten free. I watched my blood pressure and went for annual physicals. I checked all the boxes and yet I still got cancer.
My whole life I played sports and was active. I was never really sick as a child and the only surgery I had until my 30s was ACL replacement in my right knee. But I always had "a nervous stomach" and what most doctors assumed and diagnosed as haemorrhoids. In my early 30s I got really sick and eventually had my gall bladder removed. At the time, no sign of any other illness was present, and I felt better afterwards. Until I didn't.
In March 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic I was quarantined and working from home. I had my Peloton to keep me active and was up to 6 spin classes per week. I was loving it and felt healthier than I ever had. As the pandemic raged on, I kept to my routine and working out, however my legs started tingling and my lower back hurt a lot. I thought maybe I had pulled it doing one of the workout classes and the leg pain was due to my anemia. So, I followed my doctor’s orders and did stretches and several rounds of steroids but the problem didn't subsist. In September 2020, I told my doctor I didn't know why I was still having so much pain. He assured me I had sciatica and that I needed to do more stretches and rest. Finally, after a few weeks he sent me for a back X-ray and a ultrasound of my stomach—all to assure me it was just sciatica.
The first ultrasound showed a lesion on my liver that the radiologist couldn't get a clear view of. A CT scan was ordered next and that is when they say at least 10 metastatic appearing lesions. This began the search for the primary tumor.
Over the next week I had scan after scan and test after test: blood work, meetings with various specialists, a high-density mammogram, a CT scan with contrast, a PET scan, and a colonoscopy. After the pet scan and a colonoscopy we found him—Timmy the tumor was sitting in my sigmoid colon, was cancerous, and had traveled to my liver.
My world was rocked.
I immediately was scheduled for sigmoid colon resection surgery and set up to start chemo immediately following. On 10/23/20 my surgeon resected the sigmoid colon and I did so well I went home from the hospital on 10/24. I thought we were ahead of this and the chemo would knock the lesions of my liver.
That wasn't the case. After 4 rounds of FOLFOX + MVASI I had a scan to check my progress. The lesions on my liver had increased in both size and number. While the rest of me appeared clear of new growths, it was a huge letdown that my body was not responding to the first line of chemo. The oncologist switched me to Irinotecan and Xeloda and my partner and I decided to seek out second opinions and alternative treatments because I we want to be as proactive as possible. During this time we also received the results of my genetic testing and found that I had several mutations in my DNA, including KRAS.
Having access to Vivan Therapeutics' personalised treatment - developed by creating 500,000 fruit fly avatars and screening all possible drug combinations to find the best one for me- could be a game changer.
I would love to get back to my old self and maybe even better. I want nothing more but to spend the rest of my life enjoying my family and friends and not having to worry about an invisible enemy living inside of me. I believe Vivan Therapeutics can give me that future.