At age 30, Anna Webster was a busy single mom juggling work and caring for her 11-year-old daughter. She didnâ€™t have time to be sick. But after passing out one evening in the spring of 2009, she spent three days in a Jacksonville, Fla., emergency room while doctors tried to figure out what was wrong. Her potassium level was extremely low and her kidneys were having issues. Then a CT scan found a mass on her liver.
On April 1, Webster went alone to her doctor. As someone with a positive outlook on life, she wasnâ€™t worried. But then she was given a diagnosis â€” Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC). And unfortunately, it wasnâ€™t an April foolâ€™s joke.
â€śIt shocked me. I cried, of course. Then my mind started racing. I had so many emotions â€” sadness, fear of the unknown, fear over what would happen to my daughter,â€ť recalls Webster.
Her original nephrologist referred her to Mayo Clinic, which has a designated Cancer Center recognized by the National Cancer Institute.
Webster, who hadn't realized Mayo Clinic was so close by, met Andrew Keaveny, M.D., director of the liver transplant program. â€śTransplant, Iâ€™d read, was the best cure. But then they told me I wasnâ€™t a candidate. I was devastated,â€ť she says.
But given Mayo's hallmark of a team approach to care, Dr. Keaveny asked his colleague, Justin Nguyen, M.D., abdominal surgeon, to consult with Wester. Dr. Nguyen told her she was a perfect candidate for a liver resection.
â€śI came to Mayo Clinic and I felt like there was hope. I had a whole team of doctors dedicated to me, figuring out the best treatment for me and where my condition stood. I felt very at ease,â€ť Webster recalls.
Three weeks later, on April 24, she underwent the resection procedure to remove the tumor.
Due to the nature of the cancer, there is a strong chance for recurrence. But Webster says she doesnâ€™t dwell on the survival rates or statistics, even when she had to undergo a second procedure about two years later.
â€śToday, I am confident that I have beat the odds, but I know that if something does come up, I have a team available to me who care and are focused on their patients and will prescribe the best treatment for me in an expeditious manner,â€ť Webster adds.
Now she refers many to Mayo Clinic, promoting the personalized care she found. â€śCancer is personal. Your treatment should be, too. I am so blessed that Mayo Clinic is practically in my backyard.â€ť