STORY OF SURVIVAL: Metastatic cancer survivor’s inspiring message

 STORY OF SURVIVAL: Metastatic cancer survivor’s inspiring message

Kiuana Caver is still alive because she listened to her body.

If Kiuana Caver, 43, of Detroit, didn’t listen to her body, she doesn’t know if she would still be here.

In 2021, Caver experienced unexplained weight loss all over — in her arms, legs, face, etc. — except for one targeted area: her stomach.

“I was gaining more and more weight just in my stomach,” Caver said. “I was walking around looking pregnant, and I wasn’t.”

Caver experienced constant bloating, abdominal pain and discomfort. But the important message she hopes everyone will heed: She did not dismiss her symptoms.

Instead, Caver went to the emergency department at a local hospital, asked questions and advocated for herself. There, she had a procedure called paracentesis to remove fluid from her abdomen. A couple months later, she returned with the same symptoms and had more fluid drained.

But this time was different. She was transferred from her local hospital to Corewell Health William Beaumont University Hospital, the new name for Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, to see a specialist. Further tests revealed life-changing news: She had metastatic ovarian cancer.

“I was shocked,” Caver said. “But everything happened so fast – it was boom, boom, boom, so I really didn’t get a chance to wrap my head around everything. I had to fight full-force.”

The journey

Caver had a cytoreductive surgery including a full hysterectomy, a surgical procedure to remove both the uterus and cervix, and six weeks later, in April 2021, started receiving chemotherapy.

Then, that September, Caver had another surgery to remove the rest of the cancer followed by Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy, also known as HIPEC, or “heated chemotherapy.” This newer treatment method focuses on cancers originating or spreading to the abdomen and pelvis.

“At that time, Kiuana had stage 4 ovarian cancer that had metastasized and spread to both her spleen and appendix,” said Dr. Zaid Al-Wahab, a gynecology oncology surgery specialist with Corewell Health William Beaumont University Hospital. “Because her cancer was aggressive and at such an advanced stage, HIPEC was the best course of action and key to an improved survival rate and quality of life for Kiuana.”

Kiuana Caver has returned to work.
Kiuana Caver has returned to work

During the cytoreductive surgery and HIPEC procedure, visible tumors are surgically removed, and the abdominal cavity is flushed with a heated chemotherapy solution to target left-behind cancer cells.

The goal: Eliminate cancer cells, while preserving healthy cells. Therefore, HIPEC is administered at a specific temperature range because cancer cells are killed at about 104°F, while normal cells die at approximately 111.2°F.

After her HIPEC procedure, Caver had three more rounds of chemotherapy.

“Mentally, it’s draining,” Caver said. “I tried my best to keep active and continue working up until my surgery, just to keep my mind off of it.”

The message: Listen to your body

Caver is now in remission and back to work, but she wants to encourage others to listen to their bodies. She said being aware of your body and listening to it when something’s off can change everything.

“Most definitely everyone should get checked on the regular,” she added. “If you notice a change, that’s your body trying to tell you something. So yes, regular checkups are a must.”

Another takeaway: It’s important to have a trusting doctor-patient relationship.

“When I first met Dr. Al-Wahab, he looked me straight in my eyes and said, ‘I’m going to treat you as if you were my daughter, my sister, or my family,’” Caver said. “Why would I say no? He had my life in his hands.”

Thank you to Corewell Health Communications Professional Amanda Klingbail for contributing this article to

Ed Wright

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