Katie Miller gave birth to her second son, Reid, on April 19.
Days after he was born, the 29-year-old mom noticed that her postpartum tummy wasn’t going away — and that her stomach felt rock hard.
Miller explained on YouCaring that she knew something was wrong. During a visit to the doctor, a nurse told her to not to worry until the next doctor’s appointment.
But Miller knew her condition was unusual:
My belly was hard, not flabby, and if I laid flat on my back a lump would protrude upwards […] One more week passed and I still knew it wasn’t normal, something definitely wasn’t right.
She decided to schedule a full medical examination with her doctor. After the appointment, Miller was told that she had an aggressive tumor forming in her stomach.
Her doctor immediately scheduled Miller for surgery the following week to try to remove the tumor and determine if it was cancerous.
When she returned to the hospital, the tumor had grown to the size of a basketball. She wrote:
The doctors were all baffled by the size of the tumor and how no one had caught it during previous ultrasounds or delivery (join the club because I’m still baffled).
The invasive surgery went as planned. But when she woke up, Miller learned the tumor was, in fact, cancerous.
Doctors determined that the cancer in her stomach had spread to her colon and liver. Her oncologist was able to remove the tumor, cut the cancer out of her colon, and biopsy her liver. But she would need specialized care to help remove the tumor and cancer entirely.
Miller was diagnosed with a rare disease known as desmoplastic small round cell tumors, referred to as DSRCT.YouCaring
According to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, DSRCT is an aggressive form of cancer that typically forms in the abdomen or pelvis. It usually grows quickly in the body. Most patients experience diarrhea, cramping, vomiting, constipation, and other stomach pains before diagnosis.
Once the surgery was behind her, Miller was told to transfer to Johns Hopkins for an advanced chemotherapy treatment on her DSRCT. But her recovery is far from over.
A family friend, Jeff Settle, set up the YouCaring page to help pay for medical expenses, baby care, and other financial burdens. So far, the page has raised more than $49,000 in support of the family.
According to St Jude’s Hospital, there currently isn’t a standard treatment for DSRCT, as the disease was only discovered in 1989. The disease is also is very rare: Fewer than 300 patients have been reported to have DSRCT, most of them were men between the ages of 10 and 30 years old.
DSRCT can be difficult to treat. The Liddy Shriver Sarcoma Initiative estimates that the five-year survival rate for DSRCT patients is less than 15 percent.
Miller left the hospital at the end of August. She’s currently on her third round of chemotherapy.
This week she posted an update on YouCaring thanking her friends for all of the support as she continues her fight against cancer.
Dearly reached out to Miller and Settle for a comment, but neither had responded by the time of publication.