Janice V.

Cervical Cancer - Stage IV

Janice-V-Cervical
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I was impressed from the start with the coordination of appointments and how they gathered my medical records. When I walked in the front doors, the lobby felt so peaceful and relaxing. I was immediately greeted and welcomed. I had appointments all day with a multidisciplinary care team. I was so impressed by the coordination of care and the communication between the team members. I finally felt hope.

When my brother’s wife passed away from cancer, she left behind a grieving husband and son. I went to live with my brother to help take care of my nephew, Rick. I wanted to help care for and raise him. Little did I know that years later, Rick would help me during the fight for my life.

I grew up in Oklahoma, and I have lived all over the state. After college, I started teaching in Duncan, Oklahoma. In 1980, after getting my administrator’s degree, I got a job as an elementary school principal. I love children, and I am passionate about education. In 2009, I retired after many years. But I couldn’t stay away, and I worked part time in student support.

My husband, Gene, was a pastor of our local church. He had retired and was working at the school with me part time, as well. We wanted to travel more, so we were preparing to resign in early 2016.

In February 2016, I was feeling sick and lethargic. I felt like I had a urinary tract infection, so I went in to see a doctor. The doctor called me a couple of days after I took some tests and said, “You do have a UTI, but that’s not the main problem. You have cervical cancer.” I was in shock.

I thought, “This can’t be happening. Not me. I’m never sick.” I couldn’t believe what was happening. I saw a local gynecologic oncologist. More tests revealed a tumor behind my bladder that spread to my pelvic area and was in my vagina. I had so much swelling and the cancer was so extensive that I was told I was not a candidate for surgery.

I started radiation at a local hospital. My urination was negatively affected, so I got urethral stents. I saw a few different doctors, but I was getting discouraged. I was scared.

Finding hope

I lost hope. If you don’t have hope, you don’t have anything.

My family came together one night to sit and talk with me. My nephew, Rick, was currently living in the Tulsa area. As we were talking about next steps and what to do, he offered a suggestion: He asked me if I would consider going to Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA). Rick told me he had friends who had gotten treatment there and he had visited. He felt the hospital was amazing and I should at least go for a second opinion.

I considered everyone’s advice, and I decided to call CTCA®. I got an appointment for an initial evaluation. I was impressed from the start with the coordination of appointments and how they gathered my medical records. When I walked in the front doors, the lobby felt so peaceful and relaxing. I was immediately greeted and welcomed. I had appointments all day with a multidisciplinary care team. I was so impressed by the coordination of care and the communication between the team members. I finally felt hope.

Everyone at CTCA was so friendly. I immediately connected with my doctors and clinicians, and I could tell they truly cared about me. They wanted to build a relationship with me, to understand my goals and concerns. Throughout the hospital, the people we met, from the cafeteria cooks to the patients to the staff, were so welcoming.

The doctors educated me about my treatment options. They took time to answer my questions and make sure I understood everything. My treatment plan involved chemotherapy and 30 radiation therapy treatments, followed by more chemotherapy. My team explained the process and even what side effects I might experience.

In April 2016, I started treatment. I stayed at the hospital in its guest quarters. It’s like a hotel within the hospital. I really liked that everything I needed was in one building. After radiation was complete, my doctors told me my tumors were shrinking. I then completed additional chemotherapy.

Throughout treatment, when I experienced side effects, I worked with supportive care providers. One issue I had was neuropathy in my feet and legs. My CTCA team took these side effects seriously and worked with me to improve my quality of life.

Having trust

Today, recent scans show no signs of cancer. Everything is stable, and my doctors don’t see anything concerning. I return every six months for checkups, and I look forward to the three-and-a-half-hour drive to go back to CTCA. During the drive, I reflect back on how it felt right after my diagnosis and how I wasn’t sure I would be alive a year later. I know what a blessing it is that I am here today.

While I was going through cancer treatment, I often read the bible. Everything I read in the scriptures reinforced that I needed to trust in God. I know that God put me in the right place with the right people. God was working through the CTCA doctors and nurses. Having trust in God got me through my cancer journey.

I have five children, 17 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. They call me GranJan. I look forward to weddings and other celebrations I can attend. I still really want to travel. Gene and I daydream about trips, but we are taking it one day at a time right now.

I am thankful to God for my every breath. I tell others not to take life or health for granted. I know I am blessed to have others share my life with Gene by my side. I will never take my life for granted, and I enjoy all the moments, big and small, that I am here to experience.

Diagnosed:
March 2016
Treatment at: