Cancer Edition


Goldsboro News Argus Cancer Edition

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 5 of 7

that you have cancer,it's hard to swallow,"he said."You can't say you understand because you really don't.I was only 46,this didn't make any sense.I still had a 14- year-old at home that I wanted to see grow up and two other daugh- ters that I wanted to see go on about their life.But I felt like this was the end." When he had first been told he was anemic,Eli went home,got on the computer and looked it up.He found that anemia could be a side effect of cancer. "So,I sat at 7:45 in the morning at home by myself and was,'Oh, woe is me,'"Eli said. He had just lost his father-in- law to a progressive cancer in November 2016. "He lasted six months,"Eli said. "They think it may have started in his colon but ended up in his liver and part of his lungs.They never really knew where it started because it was so progressive." It was hard on Eli,his wife,Carla, and daughters Allison Hudson,25, Morgan Hill,21,and Kaytlyn Hud- son,15. Eli even threw himself a little pity party at first. "Then I met with my pastor here at Goldsboro Worship Center,an excellent pastor and a friend,to say the least,"he said. But it was one Sunday morning while sitting in the back of his church that something changed for Eli. "I've heard this scripture my whole life,Philippians 4:7,that says that God provides a peace that pas- seth all understanding,"he said."I never really grasped the meaning of that voice until then. "The church was full to capacity, but all I could hear was God speak- ing to me.From that day forward,I was at perfect peace with my cancer. He put the right doctors,the right surgeon,the right hospital in place." After being told he had colon can- cer,Eli's first reaction was to go to Duke.But it was going to take time to be seen and then be scheduled for surgery.Eli was referred to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville. At this point,the doctors didn't know if Eli would have to have chemotherapy or radiation in addi- tion to surgery. "There was a lot of unknown going on,"he said. After having his colonoscopy in the middle of January,Eli was hav- ing surgery to remove the polyp on Valentine's Day of this year. "They took out about 12 to 14 inches of my colon to resection,"he said."The doctor told me that if God was to come down and say,'I'm going to give you cancer,where do you want it,' he'd raise his hand to colon every time.He said it's the most curable cancer and easier to deal with as long as it's in the right position,the right place.It was high enough up in my colon to not bother anything." But timing had been everything. The cancerous mass was just about to come through his colon wall, which could have spread to his stomach,liver,lungs and pancreas. "Another six months,the doctor told me,would have been another situation,"Eli said."It would have been an incurable situation." Two days after surgery,Eli went home.The next day,his surgeon called to say the all the lymph nodes they had taken out came back nega- tive for cancer.As far as the doctor was concerned,everything was good and clean. So Eli didn't have to have chemo or radiation.His stage 2 cancer had been contained in the mass in his colon. Throughout his ordeal with can- cer,Eli had lots of support,some- thing he says is totally necessary. "I believe this is exactly the order of my support,"he said."God first was my biggest support.Then my family,then my church. "I don't really know how any- body can go through a situ- ation like can- cer without God first or your family or your church.And I don't know how people who don't have those three pieces do it.I had the most support that anybody could have,not from 'I feel sorry for you,' but 'We're here for you.'" Eli said he believes a lot of can- cer is a mental thing. "I think you can defeat a lot of it with your mind,"he said."It's hard,I get it.Maybe mine wasn't as large or as progressive as some people's.I understand that every cancer is different. "But mentally,that's where you have to be.They said there was a chance I'd have to have chemo — maybe with a pill.Did I want to do it? No.If I have to do it,I'm fine. This to me was a journey,and it was one step to the next step.I took each step each day as it came.I think that's the way you have to do it.You have to take one test result,one reaction,at a time." His journey through colon can- cer has definitely changed Eli. "The little things in life don't matter as much,"he said."If my daughter spills a glass of milk,is it that important? No,not really, not really.Life is the most impor- tant thing.And where are you going to be beyond this time." Eli would also tell everybody to not wait until that magic age of 50 to get a colonoscopy. "They back dated this cancer I had that I had it since I was 38 years old,"he said."Early detec- tion is the key.And if you feel bad, tell the doctor how you feel." 18A — Goldsboro News-Argus Sunday, October 8, 2017 20DCT1017J© Supporting you and your family during treatment & beyond "Together We Are Stronger" Wayne Wallace 919.731.2211 St. Mark Church of Christ Disciples of Christ General Bishop Alton A. Smith, Pastor ST. MARK HEALTH MINISTRY presents THE 1st ANNUAL CANCER SEMINAR SAT., OCT. 14, 2017 10:00 A.M. - 1:00 P.M. 700 W. Ash Street, Goldsboro, NC for more information contact: (919) 738-8787 or (919) 344-6790 Speakers and lunch Interesting and Informative Topics: Breast, Prostate & Colon CANCERS 7DAG1017J© Patient tion. She wound up having surgery, removing four lymph nodes,which came back negative for cancer. Smith said she was blessed to have confidence in the physicians who cared for her,and the plan of treatment from Dr.I-Wen Chang at Southeastern Medical Oncology Center — radiation and hormone therapy. It was a bit ironic being a patient in the office where she worked for all these years and being cared for by her co-workers. "The girls at the office, they were outstanding, they were so caring," she said."One was very eager to tell me, 'I'm not going to treat you any different,' but we're family. "Dr.Kerlin,the worst part for me was him being my employer but also my doctor,but he was a professional, he was a friend, he was a doctor. I found out what everybody raves about — about how educated he was and thorough and every question you thought or didn't think, he had an answer for." The process was not without its twists and turns,though. Shortly after being diagnosed in early February,she had an accident at home resulting in third-degree burns to her left hand. "My husband had sent me flowers at the office and cooked supper for Valentine's Day — he was outside cooking pork chops, asparagus wrapped in bacon,everything was so good," she said. "All I needed to do was fry the bacon, there was extra bacon left.The pot was on the stove, I thought it was cooled, and poured (bacon grease) in a jar but it got all over my hand." Fortunately, her husband, Mike Smith, is a retired EMT and knew how to treat it in the interim. Actually, the whole family has medical ties. Daughter, Miranda, works in the registration area of the emergency department at Wayne Memorial Hospital.Son,Hunter,a recent grad- uate of Liberty University now pur- suing his master's in homeland secu- rity,is also a paramedic. "When you're in the medical field you're not supposed to think about emotions,"Smith said."It's all about how to fix it. "You have to be able to handle it, and that's how my whole family is." But even the most pragmatic exte- rior can be weakened when the news hits close to home. And the Smiths rallied around Phyllis during her cancer journey,as did so many others,she said. "I'm not used to people 'oohing' and 'aahing' over me," she said. "I have been involved with Relay for Life for 13 years, always helping other peo- ple. I would never have thought it would be me and that I would have a bag out there that was lit during luminary ceremony." The encouragement and support given was very appreciated. First and foremost,having a solid faith was beneficial. "No.1,God,"she said."I don't see how anybody can go through any kind of experience — cancer —with- out Him. "Reading my devotions, which is my favorite devotion, Jesus Calling, the Tuesday morning ladies prayer meeting at church (First Pentecostal Holiness), my mom is involved in that.They were all the time praying and sending me cards." Since completing radiation at the end of June, she continues to be on hormone therapy and says she has- n't had any major side effects. "My knees and joints are stiff,and I think I'm a bit more sentimental," she said. Another by-product, perhaps, is the reserve tank of compassion she has discovered within herself. It is at the ready whenever a patient comes through her office doors, being offered freely as so many others did for her. Fortunately,it was caught before it worsened,she says now,thankful she persisted and followed her instincts. "To me it's real important for women to pay attention.Women know their own body,"she said. "(Mine) never progressed past mod- erate but it was only a stage before cancer.I think it can get to severe dysplasia.It was close enough that they wanted to remove it and not leave it." Her last surgery was in 2012. "There's not much cervix left because the very first time they took over half of it,"she said. Then,during one of her surgeries, she said,her heart stopped while she was on the table. "It's been one thing or another," she said,adding that she started taking hormone replacement thera- py at 26,accelerating early menopause symptoms. Initially,she continued to get checked by her doctor every three months.Then about five years ago, she had another scare. "It came back as abnormal cells again,and that's the same year my mammogram came back,and I had to be re-tested,"she said."The mam- mogram turned out OK but I had to have a second surgery for cells that had turned into dysplasia. "They were removed,and I proba- bly have less than a quarter of my cervix remaining.If anything hap- pens again,they'll do a hysterecto- my." She still battles a lot of pain issues,she says,and as her annual exam next month approaches,she tries to stay positive. "All you can do is be diligent and treat it,"she said."There's really no way to completely solve the endometriosis problem and the only way to solve the dysplasia is a hys- terectomy. "The risks of osteoporosis are higher problems for heart issues." She has coped with the situation relatively well,in part because it has long been a normal part of her life. "I don't stress out about it or get anxious any more,"she said."My family does.I just don't panic with it. You just roll with it and pray that they can get it beforehand. "I try to be diligent and pay atten- tion to the changes in my body.You can't be embarrassed to ask ques- tions of your doctor." Now approaching 46,because of her medical situation she has never had children. She has been very private about it,she says,not being one to post on social media or share her story too often. "I feel like there's so many people out there that have gone through more than I have,"she said."But I'm always thankful for the prayers." Woodard doesn't mind passing along her own experience,she says, if it helps someone else. "Get a second opinion,"she sug- gests."Sometimes you have just got to push a little bit harder. "I think it's incredibly important for people to pay attention and not let anybody talk you out of the fact that something's wrong." Battle Strength every cancer and also increases the death rate from every cancer. We are seeing a significant increase in esophageal cancer and liver cancer that is directly related to obesity due to reflux and fatty liver. The prevention of an illness saves the person the burden of dealing with the illness. Early detection is good but prevention is better. Some cancers don't have any early warning signs and some do. Lung cancer may present with shortness of breath,chest pain,nagging cough, a cold that does not go away or coughing up blood. Head and neck cancer may present with a sore throat,a mass in the neck,a change in the voice or dental problems. Skin cancers usually present as a rough area on the skin that does not go away and is on sun exposed areas. Melanoma,a different type of skin cancer,usually presents as a dark mole that is growing or changing shape or color. Breast cancer,when it is more advanced,presents as a lump in the breast that is frequently found by the patient when bathing. Colon cancer may present with a change in bowel habits such as the development of constipation or diarrhea. Sometimes colon or rectal can- cer may presents with blood in the stool. Bladder cancer frequently presents with bloody urine or symptoms of a urinary tract infection that does not go away with antibiotics,and kid- ney cancer is usually asymptomatic until large and then may present with blood in the urine or flank pain. Prostate cancer may present with difficulty starting or stopping the urine flow or if advanced may present with pain. Esophageal cancer usually presents with difficulty swallowing food and people have had to change what they eat due to food getting stuck when they swallow. We at SMOC would prefer that everyone focuses on ways to prevent cancer. We agree with our grandmothers-an ounce of prevention is worth at least of pound of cure. Please let's prevent cancer when we can. Prevention The imaging test helps identify hard-to-see areas that are not as visi- ble with 2-D mammogram images. "(There are) areas that are drawn in that you can't really see on the 2-D mammography,"Munro said. "I think they're a lot better on the 3-D. It does increase the time we spend diagnosing,looking at mammograms, but I think it has decreased the amount of people we have to bring back, so I think that's decreased anxiety and helped women." The newer 3-D testing captures multiple images of the breast from different angles. The technology also allows doctors the ability to scroll through images to uncover layers of tissue and helps to zero in on hard- to-detect cancers. Robin Benson,supervisor for mammography at Wayne UNC Health Care,is impressed with the 3-D technology and how far the testing has come during her 27 years in the profession. "I feel like this is the first step where I feel like I've made a difference because the whole time I've been in it,it's always been those two pic- tures of the breasts you did,whether it be in film or the computer or wherever,"Benson said. "Now,I feel like this 3-D is giving layered images,and I feel like that was a big step from where we were. "Women are excited about it." EYES OF MEDICINE Today,there are a variety of imaging tests that can be performed to either detect cancer or monitor the progress of cancer treatment. Doctors use imaging tests to take pictures of the inside of the body. The imaging tests can be used to look for cancer,determine how far can- cer has spread and to see if cancer treatment is working. Imaging tests include CT scans; magnetic resonance imaging,MRI; ultrasound; X-rays and other radiographic tests; mammography; and nuclear medicine,which can include positron emission tomography,bet- ter known as PET,scans. "Once a diagnosis is made,there's a lot of imaging that comes,either to manage or to figure out how much it's spread,"Munro said. "I think it's invaluable. Not to say everything relies on radiology,but I think almost all treatment plans,of any cancer treatment,rely on radiology to monitor it. "It steers therapy every step of the way." Imaging older than 65 and have had normal Pap test results for several years,or if you have had your cervix removed as part of a total hysterectomy for a non-cancerous condition,like fibroids,your doctor may tell you that you do not need to have a pap test anymore. Getting an HPV Vaccine The HPV vaccine protects against the types of HPV that most often cause cervical,vaginal,and vulvar cancers. It is recommended for pre- teens (both boys and girls) ages 11 to 12 years,but can be given as early as age 9 and until age 26. The vaccine is given in a series of either two or three shots,depending on age. It is important to note that even women who are vaccinated against HPV need to have regular pap tests to screen for cervical cancer. Early on,cervical cancer may not cause signs and symptoms. Advanced cervical cancer may cause bleeding or discharge from the vagina that is not normal for you,such as bleeding after sex. If you have any of these signs,see your doctor. They may be caused by something other than cancer,but the only way to know is to see your doctor. Types of Treatment Cervical cancer is treated in several ways. It depends on the kind of cervical cancer and how far it has spread. Treatments include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. • Surgery: Doctors remove cancer tissue in an operation. • Chemotherapy: Using special medicines to shrink or kill the cancer. The drugs can be pills you take or medicines given in your veins,or sometimes both. • Radiation: Using high-energy rays to kill the cancer. Prevention of the disease is paramount as early stage cervical cancer is highly curable. ** The above article is an excerpt from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website ( Cervical cancer

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Cancer Edition - 2017