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Bobbie McAllister

Colorectal cancer - Stage IIIB

This testimonial includes a description of this patient’s actual medical results. Those results may not be typical or expected for the particular disease type described in this testimonial. You should not expect to experience these results.

View CTCA treatment results for colorectal cancer

My story

Growing up, our house had a long driveway that closely paralleled our neighbors. One day my father saw our neighbor walking up the drive. He took one look at her and said, “She has cancer.” He could see it in her face, in her coloring. A week later a doctor confirmed my father’s suspicions.

That memory flooded into my mind when I was diagnosed with cancer. I was 51 years old at the time. I went to the emergency room because I was not having bowel movements and had sudden, terrible abdominal pain. By the end of the day the doctors said that I had cancer. I couldn’t believe it. I looked healthy. I didn’t look like someone who had cancer. I didn’t look like my neighbor on the driveway.

Searching for Integrative Care

After colon resection surgery, I needed additional treatment. I considered the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) facility in Philadelphia, not far from my home in Wayne, Pennsylvania, and also other well-known cancer centers in the Philadelphia area.

During my three-day initial consultation at CTCA, the people I met with talked about what I could expect with chemotherapy. I needed FOLFOX, the standard chemotherapy regimen for colon cancer. I might experience neuropathy, or numbness, as a result of the treatment. We discussed ways to reduce the numbness, including using an electrical impulse device called Rebuilder and a supplement called L-glutamine.

During my visit to another cancer center, I asked about their neuropathy protocols. That center never heard of the Rebuilder and didn’t use L-glutamine. The doctor was very impressive, and I knew she would provide excellent medical care. But I expected to be on my own for any integrative treatments.

Integrative care was extremely important to me. I didn’t want to fight cancer and my doctor about alternative therapies. At CTCA, these integrative approaches are given weight. Providing excellent traditional medical care comes first and foremost, but integrative treatments like acupuncture and nutrition are automatically included for all patients. That approached tipped the scales for me in favor of CTCA.

CTCA also made room for other seeming eccentricities. As an avid reader, I had a long list of things I had heard of in the past. I wanted an astrologer to select the dates that I had my chemo.  I had also heard that the body is less resistant to certain drugs at certain times of the day (chronotherapy).  So I wanted to be sure to take the drugs at the right time to have the least reactions I don’t know if these approaches helped me heal.  I do know that I was thankful that my requests were treated with respect by my care team.

I had twelve rounds of FOLFOX and was able to continue working until the week before my seventh, at which time I went on short-term disability. There were side effects, but most of the time they were tolerable. I had a lot of help with managing whatever I was going through. The care was tremendous all around. If I had a question, it was answered. If I had a need, it was addressed.

Living with uncertainty

For me, the hardest part of being diagnosed with cancer is the uncertainty. During my treatment, I was surrounded by people who went out of their way to make sure I received the best care possible. But cancer is a fickle and insidious foe. It has deep and lasting tentacles. It creates an uncertainty that we need to learn to live with to some extent.

I consider it a blessing that I received care at CTCA. Everyone went the extra mile for me, from the driver to my doctor to the nurses and everyone in between. Being part of the Cancer Fighters Care Network has been a way for me to give back for what I received.

Today I simply continue to live my life. I continue my work as a technical writer and love to research all kinds of subjects. Physically I feel great, despite some remaining mild neuropathy. 

My family has been extraordinary throughout my treatment, and my niece has been my inspiration. After chemotherapy treatments I would go straight to my sister’s house half a mile away from my own. My niece insisted that I sleep in her bed. loved chemotherapy because it meant sleepovers at her house every two weeks. Watching me go through treatment has made her a stronger person, and has shown her that adversity is just something you handle. Everyone in my family has become much more resilient as a result of my cancer diagnosis—including me.

Sometimes I think of my childhood neighbor as she walked up the drive. She lived many years and put up a valiant fight.  I wonder if the length of her life would have been longer, and the quality of her life would have been better if CTCA had been present in her life.  I know that the quality of my life and my ongoing healing has been enhanced by CTCA.

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