Del. Woman Battles Rare Cancer - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Del. Woman Battles Rare Cancer

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Shown at right is Kaitlyn Vis (Photo: WBOC) Shown at right is Kaitlyn Vis (Photo: WBOC)

WYOMING, Del.- Twenty-one-year-old Kaitlyn Vis of Wyoming, Del., can only use 30 percent of her lungs.

"I'm on oxygen 24-7," Vis said.

Her lungs are collapsing. She uses an oxygen tank to stay alive.

Vis was diagnosed with interstitial lung disease in December.

"They (doctors) didn't know what to do with it or how to treat it," she said.

Kaitlyn said doctors initially diagnosed her with bronchitis. Then her symptoms became worse. The family began seeking help at Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore.

This is not the first time the Vis family has suffered heartache.

"I don't want to lose another daughter. I already lost one two years ago to a rare cancer," said Wendy Vis, Kaitlyn's mother.

Wendy Vis said her daughter Jennifer died in 2011. A collage of pictures decorate a frame in the living room to help keep her memory alive.

Family members say there is hope for Kaitlyn.

"We've already been through a big loss already. This is just a speed bump and we're just going to get over it and get past it," said Kaniela Vis, Kaitlyn's older brother.

Experts believe the disease could be caused by infections of the lungs, toxins in the environment, such as asbestos or silica dust. It could also be caused by certain medications or chronic autoimmune diseases, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

According to the National Institutes of Health, interstitial lung disease includes more than 100 chronic lung disorders.

Kaitlyn suffers from idiopathic pulmonary failure, meaning tissue deep in the lungs becomes thick and stiff, or scarred, over time.

Doctors say there is no cure.

Experts say many live three to five years after diagnosis.

Kaitlyn will be placed on a transplant list on April 16.

"We can receive a phone call the next day or it could take up to three months," said Wendy Vis.

Until the family receives that call, they're busy planning fundraisers to help pay for the nearly $20,000 double lung transplant.

Due to Kaitlyn's condition she can no longer work. She says each day is challenging.

"I have to wear a mask when I go out in public. I can't walk in stores because I get tired quickly. I can't even hang out. Most of the friends that I did have, they left me because I can't even hang out with them," said Kaitlyn Vis.

Kaitlyn and her fiance are hoping she receives a transplant quickly, so they can plan their wedding and a long life together.

"We'll get there eventually," said Kaitlyn Vis.

According to experts at the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, idiopathic pulmonary failure is not reportable in the state.

That's because this particular disease does not have an exact cause.

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