Gretta Goodis is thankful for her diabetes. Because of her condition, doctors were able to diagnose her liver cancer at a very early stage.
The diagnosis of liver cancer was a surprise to Gretta’s doctors and Gretta herself as she was considered low-risk for primary liver cancer (though she really wasn’t) so she, like other low-risk individuals, was not screened as part of her annual physical examination. However, Gretta did have fatty liver disease, which is a risk factor for liver cancer as is diabetes. And at age 16, she had a bad reaction to a medication, which caused her liver to become inflamed.
Each of them, along with the fact that her grandmother died from liver cancer at age 50 and Gretta was already 52, should have caused her to be considered higher-risk.
Gretta was lucky.
Because her diabetes was monitored so closely, doctors saw that her liver enzymes were elevated and further tests revealed that she had three masses on her liver, two of which were cancerous. Doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital, one hour away from her York, PA home, removed the masses. No further treatment was needed. She continues to be followed regularly for any signs of recurrence, and things are still looking very positive.
“It is important to know your family history and push for more testing,” says Gretta. “There is a misperception that only alcoholics are at risk for liver cancer and that it isn’t a concern for women.”
Her 26-year-old son has slightly elevated liver enzymes and early signs of fatty liver disease so he is being watched closely and working with his doctor to prevent progression.
Five years after her diagnosis, Gretta is healthy and considered cured. Her diabetes is also now well controlled. Adds Gretta, “I know how lucky I am and I treasure every day.”
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