The New Frontier: Taking Over Tumors - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

The New Frontier: Taking Over Tumors

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Continuing our special series The New Frontier... we’re introduced to one Great Falls woman, who despite being full of cancerous tumors, is spearheading a new way to view her health and providing an inspiration to us all.

"I'm full of tumors. My femur, my leg, my spine, my guts, my liver… now it's in my lungs,” says Eileen Torgerson, as we sat in her living room one summer morning.

"My son said one day… ‘Well, can you just hold on for Cody’s graduation?’ And I was like whoa, I'm not going to die!"

It's that fight against death that has kept Eileen moving since her cancer diagnosis 16 years ago.

It's a rare form of cancer called insulinoma... so rare, in fact, that as far as Eileen knows, she's the only patient in Montana. That means her treatment takes her across the country.

"So it's frustrating and it's harder, but when your lives at stake you do it."

But even a fighter like Eileen has a breaking point… she was miserable. She couldn't do the things she loved, couldn't work, and chemo actually made the tumors grow. So in December of 2016, Eileen decided it was time for change.

"Finally I woke up one morning and thought 'I'm going to die if I don't get out of here.'"

So Eileen took matters into her own hands, and began a new treatment that isn't FDA approved yet, but has started to work in slowing down her cancer.

"For two years, I went to doctors. Nobody could figure out what it was. One doctor actually said it was in my head… So I guess my message to people is you have to take your health into your own hands. I was ignorant then, I listened to doctors, and now, I do a lot of questioning."

That message is spreading--not only among Eileen's close friends, but even across the internet. A GoFundMe page has raised over $11,000 to help pay for Eileen's medical bills.

"It actually was a life changing experience. It's just overwhelming what people will do. I had donations from people I didn't even know who they were, and people just keep giving and giving. It's… I had no idea people cared so much.”

For someone whose been living with cancer for 16 years, those donations, no matter how small, have given Eileen back her life.

I asked her, “Do you think you’d be here if you weren’t able to start this treatment?”

She responded, “I think there's a good chance that I wouldn't."

"I know that day comes, and I just trust that I'll know when the time comes that I'm ready for it… I’m not ready yet, I have more grandkids to graduate."

Monday, we will delve deeper into Eileen’s treatment, also known as PRRT, and talk to one of Eileen’s doctors about her treatment and what the future of cancer research holds.

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