No stomach, no problem! Gastrectomy patient another step ahead after marathon

Marne Shafer thought her running days were behind her after she received a total gastrectomy, a surgical removal of the stomach and nearby lymph nodes. She braced herself for the worst. At age 33, the mother of two and experienced marathoner, learned she has a CDH1 gene mutation, which is associated with high-risk of a rare type of stomach cancer called hereditary diffuse gastric cancer, as well as lobular breast cancer. Marne came to MD Anderson for genetic testing after several family members passed away from stomach cancer, including her father, grandmother and aunt. Since screening isn’t successful in identifying the disease in its early stages, the recommended treatment plan was for Marne to undergo the prophylactic total gastrectomy. But the surgery revealed she already had stage I cancer, which was removed during the procedure. “It seems counterintuitive to feel in full health and then go out and get your stomach removed,” she says. “People ask, ‘how are you still alive?’” Life without a stomach While she had a feeding tube for nearly two months and worked hard to get enough nutrients post-surgery, Marne credits her quick recovery to the expert care provided by her surgeon, Paul Mansfield, M.D., in addition to her history of running. “I thought I was supposed to still feel horrible two weeks after my surgery. I didn’t have a lot of strength, but I didn’t think I would feel that much better,” she says. “At the end of the day, Dr. Mansfield is just awesome. He is very personable in addition to being one of the best doctors in the world. He is extremely...