Regina woman battling extremely rare cancer
REGINA -- A woman in Regina is battling an extremely rare and incurable cancer.
Tenille Bryanton’s family believes she is the first patient ever diagnosed with an Inflammatory Myofibroblastic Tumour in Saskatchewan.
“We have really been challenged as a family as far as getting information, getting her appropriate access to the right tests and then the right treatment,” Wendi Strumborg Tenille’s sister said. “Her physicians have all gone way over and above the general expectation for her and still it was at times the disease just really outpaced what we could do for her.”
Bryanton’s cancer is also rare, because it has metastasized, meaning it’s spread to other parts of the body, and its mitotic rate is 95 per cent, meaning it is very aggressive.
“The majority of those are actually not malignant either, the majority of them are benign. The number of them that have metastatic disease or spread to the liver like Tenille does is actually quite low. Less than two per cent,” Dr. Peter Graham, surgeon said. “I’ve never seen it before and my partners have not seen it before either.”
Bryanton was diagnosed on Oct. 10, 2020 with a large tumour in her abdomen and suspicious spots on her liver. A CT scan revealed the tumour had ulcerated her stomach wall.
Bryanton received surgery on Nov. 7, 2020. The surgery was extensive as the cancer had spread around major organs and throughout her abdomen. Surgeons removed part of her stomach, her spleen, part of her pancreas and her transverse colon.
“She did fairly well after that surgery, she went back down home in Regina with her family, her husband and her kids, I think within a couple of weeks.” Dr. Graham said.
Another CT scan showed the tumour had regrown in her abdomen and Bryanton began taking a targeted cancer cell inhibitor in December.
In an update on Saturday, Bryanton said she returned to hospital with a gastrointestinal bleed from a new tumour in her stomach. A CT scan also showed significant spreading in her abdomen and potentially her spine. She did report some reduction in the liver metastases, which are tumours that have spread to the liver. Bryanton is now exploring radiation options for the tumour in her stomach and her oncologist is hoping to receive approval of a second line of drugs as soon as possible.
“All of us have been able to really rally together to support them as a family unit. I know her in-laws have been at her home every single day since she was diagnosed,” Strumborg said.
Since many Canadian doctors weren’t sure what the problem was at first, the family looked for help from the Mayor Clinic in the United States. A GoFundMe page was set up to help cover costs, and has raised more than three times its goal so far.
“Once we started realizing what those sort of expenses were looking like especially when it came down to whether we would need to physically take her to the Mayo Clinic for care,” Strumborg said.
Bryanton hopes that by sharing her story it helps raise awareness about the rarity of IMT and the treatment that it takes.