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Seattle man shares story of how treatment at Siteman Cancer Center saved his life

Washington University School of Medicine
Mcdermott Wedding
Michael and Teri’s daughter, Kennadie, rescheduled her wedding to a date before Michael’s surgery so her dad could walk her down the aisle. The gift of time that Siteman gave the McDermott family is a gift they all cherish.


Michael and Teri McDermott always expected a cancer diagnosis would change their lives. After 36 years together, they had raised two children and established a successful remodeling business in Seattle, but cancer always loomed over their story. Teri was the only person on her mother’s side of the family who hadn’t yet had cancer, so the couple braced themselves for what they assumed would be the inevitable day when she would be diagnosed.

It was Michael instead.

Not only was it Michael who was diagnosed with cancer in the fall of 2022, but it was a rare variant: adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC), a cancer that literally affects one in a million people.

After the diagnosis, the McDermotts started their journey to find a doctor who would attempt the kidney surgery their insurance threatened to not cover. A Facebook support group for ACC directed them to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland; at NIH, they discovered the tumor had grown up a major vein and into Michael’s heart.

NIH doctors couldn’t risk the surgery and started searching for a doctor with the proficiency and the team to remove the growing cancer. Washington University surgeon Adeel Khan, MD, at Siteman Cancer Center in St. Louis, answered the call, but made it clear: if Michael had any chance at survival, he had to get to St. Louis immediately, before a piece of the tumor broke off and killed him instantly.

Teri asked their NIH doctors if Michael could even survive the flight. They didn’t know.

The McDermotts and their two grown children dropped everything, gathered in St. Louis, and waited.

The team at Siteman stabilized Michael while Dr. Khan consulted with experts in St. Louis and around the world. A week later, Dr. Khan and team performed the surgery that saved Michael’s life.

After a recovery period in St. Louis, Michael and Teri have returned home to Seattle. While Michael undergoes chemotherapy, he and Teri face their uncertain future as they face everything in their lives: together.

Regardless of what’s ahead for the couple, they hope Michael’s story inspires others to stay positive and advocate for themselves. “Just because it feels like the end of the road doesn’t mean it is,” he says.

He readily admits that he would not be alive if Dr. Khan had not been willing to take his case, and if the entire team at Siteman had not been involved in his surgery and recovery. The McDermotts and their children are grateful for the extra time their family has together because of Siteman. Michael encourages your support for the life-changing care and research that happens every day in St. Louis.

“Your gift makes a difference,” Michael says. “It may seem like a drop in the bucket, but I promise, someone is going to feel that drop.”

By supporting the Annual Fund, you will help improve outcomes for cancer patients like Michael McDermott around the world. Please consider making a gift to Siteman Cancer Center today.