When Lee Plemmons was diagnosed with cancer in 2013, doctors gave him a life expectancy of two to six months. However, following treatment with the Wellmont Cancer Institute in Johnson City, Lee’s cancer went into remission.
Now, more than a year later, he’s recovering and returning to work.
My name is Lee Plemmons, and I work as a nurse practitioner in the Johnson City area.
In 2013, I noticed I had a painful, protruding umbilicus for about six months, so in July of that year, I saw Dr. Bob Connell with Wellmont Medical Associates in Johnson City. He ordered a CT, where it was discovered I had an umbilical mass and several other tumors in the abdomen. A biopsy was performed, and I was diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic gastrointestinal adenocarcinoma with an unknown primary tumor. At the time, I was told the prognosis was grim - I had a two-six month life expectancy without treatment.
I was referred to the Wellmont Cancer Institute, under the care of Dr. Jamal Maatouk. Due to the unknown primary tumor, she referred me to MD Anderson in Houston, Texas. They were able to recommend a plan that could be implemented back in Tennessee.
I received 12 rounds of chemotherapy over a six-month period at the Wellmont Cancer Institute's Johnson City office in hopes of shrinking the tumors. If they became small enough, I would be able to undergo surgery at MD Anderson.
No one was certain if this would be successful. However, the chemo shrunk the tumors by half, and I was able to have the surgery to remove the tumors on April 23, 2014. At the time of surgery, I also had a treatment with heated chemotherapy directly into the abdomen, to decrease the chance of recurrence. The surgeon in Texas expressed confidence that he was able to remove all of the tumors.
I am still recovering from the surgery and plan to return to work nurse practitioner job on a part-time basis this fall. I was told it would be six months to return to my normal health, but I've recovered enough at the four-month mark to return to work. I'm ahead of schedule!
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