Destrehan resident’s life takes a turn after routine appendectomy reveals cancer

Destrehan resident Dana Fontenot’s story of how she became a cancer patient began earlier this year with an emergency appendectomy – removal of her appendix – considered to be a routine procedure 1 out of every 20 Americans will experience at some point.

The events that followed the procedure, however, would soon lead her down a path of uncertainty, a path that quickly became anything but routine.

“On a Monday I started having severe pain in my thigh, and I thought I must have pulled something,” Fontenot, 55, said, a pain she did not think much of at the time.

She had just finished moving and had lifted numerous heavy items.

“I just let it go all week, going to work and hurting so bad,” said Fontenot.

By Saturday night, Fontenot’s pain levels had become unbearable. She asked her daughter-in-law to take her to the local emergency room, where a doctor-ordered CAT scan revealed her appendix was in immediate danger of bursting. An emergency surgery was successfully performed to remove her appendix, and Fontenot was sent home – only to be called back a short time later for a visit that completely changed her life circumstances.

“They called me and they said, ‘you need to go the digestive cancer specialist,’” Fontenot said grimly.

Additional testing revealed her worst fears – cancer spots on her stomach, pancreas and gallbladder. Her gallbladder was soon surgically removed, which she said was tested and found to be riddled with cancer. An additional lymph node surgery was performed. Doctors continue to treat her and are now closely monitoring her pancreas for signs of cancer growth.

Fontenot, who says she has held down employment in some form since she was 15 years old, had just started a new job when the cancer was discovered. With no paid time off available and her Family Medical Leave Act benefits now exhausted, she now finds herself unable to work and without a job or income, exhausted savings, with quickly mounting medical expenses.

Fontenot was previously an active Parent Teacher Organization member, Boy Scout, youth sports and community outreach program volunteer and had fundraised for various local causes.

She now finds herself in a situation in need of help from some of the same local community groups she spent years volunteering for. A GoFundMe account was recently established to help offset some of her expenses as she fights for her life.

For more information on Dana Fontenot’s circumstances or to donate, visit under the fundraiser name “Fundraiser for Dana Fontenot.”


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