CDCN: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Teresa: My name is Maria Teresa Nobleza and I am a 54 year old female from the Philippines and of Filipino and Spanish descent. I work as a full time dentist here at St. Luke's Medical Center together with my sister who happens to be a dentist/nurse also.
CDCN: Can you tell us about your diagnosis (e.g., when you were diagnosed, your first symptoms, etc.)?
Teresa: I felt my first symptoms in April 2009 but had an elevated platelet count since the end of 2008. I had fatigue, joint pains, peripheral edema, livedo reticularis, malar rash, bipedal edema, proteinuria, pericardial effusion, and severe migraines. My nephrologist gave me steroid therapy and Imuran. My hemoglobin, WBC, ESR, CRP, and CPK levels were all normal as were my ANA and ANCA tests. I was diagnosed with undifferentiated vasculitis and had to undergo 5 cycles of cyclophosphamide chemotherapy. It was only in October 2014 that a biopsy of my cervical and inguinal nodes revealed Castleman disease, hyaline vascular variant. A PET-CT revealed it to be the multicentric type so I was given Actemra for 10 months. I did not experience any side effects from it. I am currently not being maintained on any meds for my Castleman disease and my last dose was in 2011. My symptoms are now reduced by 80%, but I still have migraines and joint pains that come and go.
CDCN: What has been your greatest hardship with your Castleman disease?
Teresa: My life with Castleman disease has been very challenging. It's been a roller coaster ride emotionally, physically, and emotionally. My greatest hardship was when I didn't know which specialist to go to. No one ever met a Castleman patient here in my country except when some of these physicians were still in medical school. An oncologist wanted to do chemo but I thought I'd do my own research first. Only after constantly communicating with Dr. Frits van Rhee did my rheumatologist and I did decide on giving me Actemra for 10 months.
CDCN: What was life like before your diagnosis?
Teresa: Life before Castleman disease was the exact opposite. I went to the gym 5 times a week and ate only healthy stuff.
CDCN: What have you learned about yourself since your diagnosis?
Teresa: After my diagnosis, I learned to live by the day....no more long term goals because we are all clueless battling with this disease. What's been good about this disease, however, is that it made me develop the virtues of patience and perseverance and how to be strong in spite of the uncertainty of its prognosis.
CDCN: Why do you want to be a Castleman Warrior?
Teresa: I would like to become a Castleman Warrior because I want to inspire other patients out there to know there is still life to be lived after Castleman disease. You can ‘Like’ my Castleman disease Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/CastlemanDiseasePhilippines