Edward Pratt: Dream wins cancer battle

Sometimes you never know.

When Kasie Coleman called me a couple weeks ago about a promotional idea for her “Sugar Belle” cupcake business, my immediate response was “Let’s talk about it.” Within 10 minutes of our conversation, I discovered that Kasie is one of those people whose life puts your problems into perspective.

By some accounts, Kasie should have been dead years ago. The 37-year-old wife and mother of two young children, was told that a rare cancer was killing her. She said, “Hell no” to giving up.

Five years ago Kasie was a pharmaceutical company representative traveling the highways of Louisiana to conduct business. It was a great job and she was good at it.

But in 2008 she had a bout with terrible abdominal pains, so she went to a physician who diagnosed her with some bruised ribs. She was given a muscle relaxer.

That was followed by a serious misdiagnosis.

In 2009 a doctor diagnosed her with ovarian cancer and that it was at Stage 3. More than likely, the doctor said, it could be terminal. The physician scheduled an operation for her in October.

“My thought was, if this cancer is at Stage 3, why is my operation scheduled three months away?” So Kasie found a way to get into one of the most famous cancer hospitals in the country. But doctors there said she needed a procedure for something else.

Still feeling ill, she went to yet another hospital and group of doctors who finally diagnosed her with peritoneal mesothelioma, a rare cancer linked to asbestos.

“When they told me, the only thing I could think about was that commercial” asking people with a similar disease to sign up with a lawyer group.

Then the reality set in that she might die. “To think about that, oh, my God!”

She was referred to a doctor who had a $30,000 consulting fee and the cost of her surgery would be around $325,000. “My husband and I talked about it. Our house was worth that.”

So she went online and found an organization that helped her find physicians who would do the surgery and accept her insurance. On Aug. 29, 2010, she had surgery that involved removing the affected organs, having them treated and replaced in her body.

In later surgeries she would have her intestines, abdominal wall, part of her diaphragm and spleen removed. “I can tell you better what I have left,” she laughed.

Around Christmas of 2011, her tumors were back with a vengeance. Doctors said it looked bleak.

She decided to have a risky surgery that didn’t look promising.

“At this point, I had nothing to lose.” The surgery was followed with chemotherapy. Three months later the cancer was in remission.

During the ordeal, she said, “my husband never lost it in front of me.” Her young children didn’t understand what was going on.

The chemo caused her to lose her hair and she now wears a wig. “My oldest tells his friends that I am like a transformer because I can take my wig off and on,” she laughed. “He says, ‘See her hair. She can take it off.’ ”

Kasie looked up her old boss to see about a job but there was nothing available.

Never one to give up, Kasie turned to her next dream — owning her own business. Last year she launched “Sugar Belle,” a cupcake, tea cake, bundt cake and praline business in the Delmont Village Shopping Center.

So far business has been pretty good Kasie said.

She still goes for check ups every 90 days to see if the cancer has returned. Kasie says she is determined to grow her cupcake business.

“I am going to make this work,” she said.

I’m betting on Kasie Coleman — and I’m buying a few cupcakes.

Edward Pratt is a former Advocate editor. He is assistant to the chancellor for media relations at Southern University. His email address is epratt1972@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @epratt1972.