Amanda Bebak Lawler
Kind. Brave. Selfless.
These are words used to describe the beautiful Amanda Bebak Lawler, our newest Wunder’s Warrior.
Diagnosed with Stage III Colon Cancer in January 2015, Amanda had a partial colectomy followed by 12 chemotherapy treatments and was declared NED.
Busy enjoying life and planning a move to China with her beloved husband, Scott, she went in for a routine check in April 2017 and expressed concerns about insurance coverage in China. Her vigilant oncologist ordered a CT scan which reveeled metastatic disease to her liver and lungs.
Mandy’s Story (told in her own words):
I went in for an emergency hysterectomy in January 2015. Everything went great. I felt great after surgery but 3 days later I was in severe pain and was dehydrated. Scott, my husband, took me to the ER where they ordered a cat scan. They found a tumor in the corner of my colon. I had a colon resection a few days later. They took a foot of my colon, 24 lymph nodes and I was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer. I went home, recuperated for 5 weeks and did some oncology shopping. I Found the most amazing oncologist, Dr. Robin Obenchain and started chemo 5 weeks post-op. I completed 12 rounds of chemo and was cancer free! I didn’t have the “typical” symptoms you would expect with colon cancer. However, I now know that what I thought to be heartburn was actually pain caused by food that could not get past my tumor. I was suffering from bouts of constipation and then having the opposite of that. It was my bodies way of getting stuff past the tumor and not because of stress.
I want people, especially under 50, to know that if they have symptoms to talk to their doctors and ask for a colonoscopy! Now, off of my soapbox and back to my story- About a year after chemo, all of the side effects from chemo were gone. I felt GREAT, better than I had ever felt in my adult life. I was doing 101 things, including planning on moving to China with my husband and our youngest son for a year in July of 2018. Life was good. My doctor said my scans, my blood work, and everything was fantastic. As a matter of fact, she said my blood was better than most people including those who have never been sick. In April 2017 she said that I could go down to yearly scans instead of every six months. I would still continue to have my blood checked every 3 months. When I went in at the end of October 2017, I told her I was concerned about insurance and what would happen next year when we were in China. She said let’s just go ahead and do the scan so you can have peace of mind. It took awhile to get approval from insurance for the scan.
Finally, I got in for a scan in December 2017. It came back showing that I had a lesion on my liver that might be consistent with metastatic colon cancer. I also had 3 very small nodules on my lungs they were so small they probably couldn’t even be biopsied and seemed to be something that could be from a respiratory infection. After further testing and a liver biopsy it was confirmed, ironically, 3 years to the day on January 24th, 2018 that my cancer was back and had metastasized to my liver. I was SHOCKED because I felt great!!!! I had been cancer free for 2 1/2 years!! My doctor said I was a good candidate for a liver resection as it was supposedly a small lesion that we caught early. I went to the surgeon and asked how much of my liver he would have to take expecting he would say maybe 10% 20%, but he said he would have to take 60-70% of my liver! Apparently, the Lesion was in a bad place! He ordered a pet scan and referred me to another surgeon. After the 2nd surgeon read my pet scan he said that the spots on my lungs looked concerning and I should meet with a thoracic surgeon. I had an appointment with Dr.Abdo, my colon resection surgeon, who continued to follow me with semi-annual checkups. After reading my cat and pet scan he told me he was very sorry. It seemed to him that my cancer was aggressive. I was now showing 3 lesions on my liver. The spots on both lungs doubled and I had a new mass in the fatty tissue near my spleen. He said I needed to get a port in the next day and start chemo immediately, so I did. I started looking for alternative treatments and trials etc. Scott (my husband) found Dr Lenz who was doing amazing things out of USC. We made an appointment with him to see if I could get on a trial with him. At this time, he doesn’t have the right trial for me-BUT, I was SO impressed with the WunderGlo Foundation and Dr Lenz’s passion to find a cure!! The type of research he is doing Is one where all the money from the foundation goes to actual research!!!!!