Cancer survivor, Tina Turner, has come out of music-retirement to release a remix of her classic 1984 hit, “What’s Love Got To Do With It?”Read More
“It’s like having a second chance at life,” Turner said. “I look great. I feel good. I have gone through some very serious sicknesses that I am overcoming.”
On Instagram, her Norwegian music producer, Kygo, enthused: “What’s Love Got to Do With It” is one of my all time favorite songs. It feels surreal to get the opportunity to work with such a legendary artist. Can’t wait for you all to hear it.”
In her 2018 memoir, “Turner Turner: My Love Story,” Turner revealed that she’d “suffered a stroke, battled intestinal cancer and undergone a kidney transplant.”
The stroke came in 2013, shortly after she married German music executive Erwin Bach, 64. Afterward, she had to learn to walk again. Three years later, she was diagnosed with kidney failure and intestinal cancer. Doctors treated the cancer by removing part of her intestine but her kidney problems persisted. In 2017, Turner had a successful transplant when her husband donated his kidney.
“I know that my medical adventure is far from over,” she said in her book. “There’s always another test, another doctor’s appointment or biopsy to get through,” she said, adding, “we’re both still here, closer than we ever imagined and that’s cause for celebration.”
A Doctor’s Advice: “Be A Little Pushy”
Intestinal cancer accounts for just 1 in 100 cancers diagnosed in the U.S each year. And when other health issues — like Turner’s kidney failure — enter into the picture, getting a correct diagnosis can be complicated.
Dr. Zuri Murrell, Director of the Cedars-Sinai Colorectal Cancer Center, (who was not involved in Turner’s treatment) says sometimes patients need to be “a little pushy.”
Dr. Zuri Murrell, a colorectal surgeon at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on the importance of being your own health advocate — even it means being pushy.
“From a doctor’s perspective,” Dr. Murrell explains, “every problem should have a diagnosis, a treatment, a plan for follow-up, and a plan for what happens next if the treatment doesn’t work.”
“As a patient,” he says, “if you don’t feel like each of these four things has been accomplished, just ask! Even if it requires multiple visits or seeing additional providers for a second opinion, always be your own advocate.”
Triumph on Broadway
Turner celebrated the opening of “Tina,” the Broadway musical based on her life in 2019. At the time, speaking to an audience that included Oprah Winfrey, Spike Lee and Anna Wintour, she said, “This musical is my life but it’s like poison that turned to medicine…I can never be as happy as I am now.”
Intestinal Cancer Explained
Small intestine cancers — known as adenocarcinomas –are rare. In 2020, about 11,110 people will be diagnosed with some type of small intestine cancer in the U.S. and about 1,700 people will die of the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.
Most small intestine cancers look very similar to colon cancers under a microscope, but detailed studies of the chromosomes and DNA in their cancer cells have found some differences. Researchers hope that these findings will eventually lead to more specific and effective treatments for small intestine cancer — including chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy.
Some of the more common symptoms of intestinal cancer are:
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weight loss (without trying)
- Weakness and fatigue
- Dark-colored stools (from bleeding into the intestine)
- Low red blood cell counts (anemia)
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
Often, the first symptom is stomach pain, which is may feel crampy and get worse after eating. As the tumor gets larger, it can slow the passage of digested food through the intestine. This can lead to increased pain or, in some cases, can cause an intestinal obstruction, which can cause severe nausea and vomiting.
Sometimes a tumor will start bleeding into the intestine, which can lead to a low red blood cell count (anemia) over time, creating weakness and fatigue. If the bleeding is rapid, the stool can become black and tarry from digested blood, and the person may feel lightheaded or even pass out.
If you notice any of these symptoms, get checked by a doctor to identify the cause.
With Diagnosis, Vulnerability
According to Dr. William Breitbart, the chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Services at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, a diagnosis of cancer can bring on feelings of vulnerability in all of us.
A cancer diagnosis brings a sense of vulnerability, says Dr. William Breitbart, the chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
The shame that people tend to feel after a cancer diagnosis comes from a sense of vulnerability, says Dr. Breitbart. “People feel ashamed that their bodies were susceptible to disease, that they have to undergo treatment, that maybe they’re not as strong as they’d like others to believe.”
“What I will often point out to people, is that we have the ability to choose how we respond to this vulnerability,” says Dr. Breitbart. “We can be ashamed of it, or we can use it to create a sense of empathy.”