Hear from an MSK patient as she discusses her experience with anal cancer

Meet Lillian Kreppel, who was successfully treated at MSK for stage II anal cancer and is working to raise awareness about this rare disease.

My name is Lillian Kreppel. I was diagnosed with anal cancer September 28, 2017. My cancer is related to HPV. I knew I had HPV, but it has been dormant for a long time. I didn't realize that this little sneaky virus was burrowing and hiding and that it reared its ugly head.

HPV is the human papillomavirus. In patients with anal cancer, we find HPV detectable in over 90% of the cases.

The symptoms that I had were that there were some bleeding and there was itching and so on. It was important for me to go to the doctor because I knew something wasn't right. I've always been very proactive about my health, especially with colonoscopies and so on, because my grandmother passed away from colon cancer many years ago.

Because anal cancer involves that bottom part of the rectum, it's very hard to see it on colonoscopy. Lilian's tumor was caught very early, largely because she was very proactive when she noticed that something was wrong.

When Dr. Romesser had advised of the treatment plan, which involved 28 radiation treatments as well as 28 oral chemotherapy, I had a lot of questions, ranging from what are the side effects, short and long term? Is this going to be painful?

Because we were able to treat Lillian with definitive chemoradiation, she was able to keep her normal anatomy intact. And this will ultimately lead to improved quality of life for her as she starts living as a cancer survivor.

Everything's great.

Feeling good?

I'm feeling really good. Really, really good.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

I knew I was going to have a party from day one.

I'm cancer free.

[CHEERING]

It meant a lot to me because I wanted to say thank you to my friends, all my little chemo angels that helped me. And I wanted to thank the doctors, because I really felt that they were outstanding in so many ways.

One thing that I would like people to know about anal cancer is although it's rare, it can happen to you.

My take-home message for people about anal cancer is one, vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate against HPV at an early age. Lillian and I are working together to raise awareness for anal cancer, increase vaccination rates, and really helping people know that this is not something to be ashamed of.

Thank you for saving my life.