My name is Kris. I’m 51 and live in Vancouver, Washington. I’ve worked for a local municipality for the past 22 years as the Executive Administrative Assistant to the Budget and Finance Director. It’s a job that I really enjoy and am good at. I’ve been married for almost 30 years to a wonderful man. We don’t have children but are the servants to three needy cats. We enjoy traveling and doing sports-related events with our whippets. I’ve always been a healthy person and love to get out and visit the various amazing natural wonders available here in the Pacific Northwest. I’m involved with a hobby called Letterboxing, which is a treasure hunt style outdoor activity involving puzzles, clues and rubber stamps. It’s a hobby I really enjoy, and it provides me with a great reason to check out new places and hiking trails.
After the terrible wildfires close to the Portland/Vancouver area in the summer of 2020, my old childhood asthma showed up again and I went to my primary care doctor about the cough that I just couldn’t seem to get rid of. An x-ray showed a "non-specific abnormality" in the left lung. After consulting with a pulmonologist and having a CT guided lung aspiration and a biopsy of a left lung lesion, it was determined that I had synovial sarcoma.
I was referred to Dr. Christopher Ryan at Oregon Health and Science University. OHSU has a very respected oncology team and is one of the few places familiar with the treatment of synovial sarcoma. I'm so lucky it is close to home.
My journey began in January 2021. I had 5 rounds of chemotherapy over the next 6 months, as well as a couple of other related hospital stays. Initially, the chemo succeeded in shrinking the tumors by about a third of their size, but once chemo was completed, they started to grow again. In September 2021, I underwent a thoracotomy and extrapleural pneumonectomy. The entire lung was full of disease and had to be removed, as well as portions of the diaphragm and pericardium. The pathology of the resected tissue showed that there was likely microscopic disease still present, so I did 33 sessions of radiation to combat those cells.
A year later, I am done with the radiation and my current treatment plan, but my oncology team will still be keeping a close eye on me. I’m not sure what the future will bring, but I will move forward with the hope that the synovial sarcoma has been vanquished for good.
I am so grateful to the medical professionals that have helped me along this journey, as well as to the Northwest Sarcoma Foundation. They provided resources. finances, and information that helped me understand my disease and helped get me to where I am today