YOUR HEALTH: New concentrated chemotherapy helped save an arm

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BALTIMORE, Maryland – Krissy Loch calls three-year-old Daisy her little miracle.

"We weren't trying to get pregnant," she recalled.

"We weren't trying not to get pregnant.   She just kind of showed up.   We were married seven years so she was a big surprise.   But she saved me."

For 20-years, Krissy had a mass on her left forearm.  She shrugged it off as a muscular problem.

"When I got pregnant, it started to grow more rapidly.   I guess the hormones in my body, and it hurt."

Krissy was diagnosed with advanced sarcoma; a cancer of the soft tissue.

BACKGROUND: Adult soft tissue sarcoma is a disease in which malignant or cancer cells form in the soft tissue areas of the body.   These areas include the muscles, tendons, blood vessels, fat, lymph vessels, nerves and tissues surrounding joints.   They can form anywhere in the body but are most common in the head, neck, trunk, abdomen, arms and legs.

Her first doctor recommended she terminate the pregnancy and amputate the arm.

Determined to save both, Krissy went to Oncology specialist Vadim Gushchin.

He suggested a technique called isolated limb infusion.

Doctors thread a catheter through the groin or armpit to the cancer, and put a tourniquet just above the catheter tip.

"It basically isolates the extremity from the rest of the circulation so he very toxic drugs do not get into the system," explained Dr. Gushchin, from Baltimore's Mercy Medical Center.

The drugs are pumped into the region for 30-minutes, just once.   Then the tourniquet must come off to prevent damage to healthy tissue.

NEW TECHNOLOGY: Isolated limb infusion delivers high doses of chemotherapy directly to the tumor in an extremity. During an ILI, the limb is isolated from the rest of the body using a tourniquet.   Blood is routed through a heat source and chemotherapy is added to it, treating just the tumor or tumors in the affected extremity without releasing any chemo into the rest of the body.   Chemotherapy is administered directly to the arm or leg where the tumor is located.   It can be used to treat unresectable, in-transit melanoma as well as Merkel cell carcinoma and extremity soft tissue sarcoma.  (Source: https://moffitt.org/cancers/sarcoma/chemotherapy/isolated-limb-infusion-ili/)

"We did the procedure, the tumor shrunk. it shrunk enough to be excised completely with negative margins."

Five months after treatment, Krissy delivered Daisy, full-term and in perfect health.

"She`s just everything. She`s my best friend."

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.