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How One Woman Took Action After a Devastating Cancer Diagnosis

(BPT) - Marsha Semon was only 41 when her world turned upside down. She was a busy mom of two young children, working full time, when she began experiencing severe stomach pains.

'It got to the point where it felt like knives in my stomach,' said Marsha.

In August 2016, she had a colonoscopy, which revealed an obstruction. After a biopsy, her doctor diagnosed her with colon cancer. She was shocked.

"I had no family history of any type of cancer. I exercised and ate well. Cancer wasn't supposed to happen to me, but it did,' said Marsha. 'It's a bizarre experience, especially as a young person.'

In fact, colorectal cancer is becoming more common in those who are Marsha's age. It is the third most common cancer worldwide, and the percentage of people younger than age 55 diagnosed with colorectal cancer nearly doubled from 11% (1 in 10) in 1995 to 20% (1 in 5) in 2019. It is now the first-leading cause of cancer death in men under 50 and the second-leading cause of cancer death in women under 50.

Marsha underwent surgery to remove part of her colon and had 12 grueling rounds of chemotherapy. At the end of the treatment, she was given a clean bill of health and thought she could finally put the nightmare behind her.

Unfortunately, blood work and a PET scan shortly thereafter confirmed there was a large tumor in her liver - which ultimately happens to as many as 60% of all people diagnosed with colorectal cancer - and her cancer diagnosis was changed to Stage 4.

Marsha was referred to a liver surgeon, who recommended liver resection, a surgery to immediately remove the tumor that had been seen in her scan. But through a friend, she learned about a treatment approach called Hepatic Artery Infusion (HAI) therapy, which uses an implantable pump to deliver medicine directly to tumors within the liver. Clinical studies have shown that adding HAI therapy to systemic chemotherapy may help reduce tumor size, improve disease control in the liver, and increase the likelihood that tumors in the liver could be removed. Studies have also demonstrated that HAI therapy may prevent or delay recurrence after tumor removal and increase survival.

Marsha learned that her friend, who had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer many years prior, had received HAI therapy, and subsequently her friend had been considered to have no evidence of disease for over eight years.

Marsha asked her liver surgeon about HAI therapy and was told it was "overtreatment" in her case, because her tumor was already operable. Concerned with the statistic that a majority of patients will experience tumor recurrence within two years following surgery, she decided to seek a second opinion. The second surgeon strongly recommended liver resection with HAI therapy together and went on to explain the treatment and its history in detail. Marsha went home and read up on the data behind HAI therapy and decided to move forward.

Marsha had an HAI pump implanted in May 2017 along with a liver resection. She had five pump treatments, along with systemic chemotherapy, over six months, and was done with pump treatments by the end of 2017. During the time she was receiving HAI therapy, Marsha noted that she was able to maintain her activities as HAI doesn't add systemic side effects like she experienced with traditional chemotherapy.

"I wanted to do everything in my power to stay alive for my kids and put this disease behind me, and I knew unequivocally that HAI therapy gave me my best chance," said Marsha.

Marsha recently ran into her former doctor who had originally discouraged HAI therapy. She told Marsha that HAI therapy had been the right decision.

Today, eight years later, Marsha is no longer in treatment, her scans continue to be clear, and she is enjoying life to the fullest with her family, including recent 'once-in-a-lifetime' trips to Spain, Colombia, and Italy. In addition to travel, she continues to work full-time and give back to the cancer community.

Marsha is passionate about supporting other patients, and she gives advice for others facing colorectal cancer with spread to the liver:

  • 'Connect with others on a similar journey. It can be really helpful to talk with peer communities to understand how to reconcile how different doctors are saying different things. I co-founded a Facebook group called Liver Mets from CRC to connect people with colorectal cancer whose disease has spread to the liver, helping to provide them with information and perspective like I was fortunate enough to receive years ago.'
  • 'Don't be afraid to ask questions and seek other opinions. I don't like to think about where I might be had I not sought a second opinion and been able to get HAI therapy.'
  • 'Talk to an HAI specialist about HAI therapy and if it may be right for you. I am eternally grateful to the doctors and the research that gave me access to this impactful therapy that I believe has given me the best possible chance of survival."

Since 2019, the number of cancer centers offering HAI therapy nationwide has more than tripled, making HAI available to more patients closer to their homes. It is now available at more than 65 medical centers across the United States, including nine of the top ten U.S. cancer centers.

To learn about the benefits and risks of HAI therapy and to see if it is right for you, get in touch with an HAI Nurse Navigator who can help answer your questions and connect you with an HAI specialist near you.

You can learn more about Marsha's experience here, which was unique to her. Individual results may vary. See full safety information here.

The Intera 3000 Hepatic Artery Infusion Pump is indicated for the continuous arterial administration of Cerona Therapeutics Floxuridine for Injection, USP, heparinized saline, and glycerin. The approved labeling for Cerona Therapeutics Floxuridine for Injection, USP stipulates the indications, contraindications, and warnings for use of the drug in the pump. The Intera 3000 Hepatic Artery Infusion Pump is contraindicated for use in patients with extensive extrahepatic disease or limited hepatic function. Possible adverse events of the pump are those potential risks associated with any implanted drug delivery device and include: catheter thrombosis, vessel thrombosis, pump dislodgement, seroma, or recurrent hematoma, infection, extravasation, catheter shear, dislodgement or leakage, migration, arterial pseudoaneurysm, arterial dissection, and extrahepatic perfusion.

Caution: Federal law (USA) restricts this device to sale by or on the order of a physician. Please review the full safety information at

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