Michael Elder first noticed something wrong in August 2016 when he started going to the bathroom more often than usual, and frequently had stomach cramps and light bleeding.
He scheduled an appointment with his gastroenterologist to get a professional assessment of what might be wrong. Test results showed he had a tumor, and after a biopsy, Michael was diagnosed with rectal cancer.
Michael began over a month of radiation and chemotherapy. He received radiation from Dr. W. Hamilton Williams at the Northside Hospital Cancer Institute (NHCI) location of Radiation Oncology of Atlanta and chemotherapy with Dr. Daniel Dubovsky at Atlanta Cancer Care (ACC), also affiliated with NHCI.
“All the doctors and nurses I met at Northside were very helpful and completely knowledgeable of my situation. They showed me a lot of compassion,” Michael said.
In March 2017, Michael was finally ready for surgery. Dr. Sander Binderow with Atlanta Colon & Rectal Surgery, a Northside network provider, performed his surgery to remove the tumor, at Northside Hospital’s Atlanta campus.
In February 2017, while he was going through treatment and surgery, Michael met his now fiancée, Laverne. She was with Michael the day he had surgery and helped him through recovery in the months following.
“She was the best caregiver I could have ever imagined,” said Michael. “She was always by my side and helped me with anything and everything I needed.”
In spring 2017, Michael’s scans came back clean and he was officially in remission.
“Getting cancer was something I never expected, so when I was diagnosed, I expected the worst,” Michael said. “But with my Northside team by my side, that didn’t happen. Everyone cared so much about getting me better.”
Today, Michael is 56 and healthy, and his scans remain clear. He continues to see Dr. S. Tariq Mahmood at ACC for checkups. He and Laverne are planning to tie the knot in 2020, but for now they enjoy spending time together at home, out fishing and at the gym.
When Michael meets other people battling cancer, he always directs them to Northside Hospital.
“I’m excited to share my story because I just want to let people know how great Northside is,” he said. “The doctors worked wonders for me, and I hope they can do the same for others.”
*The health story shared here may portray atypical results of survival for this type of cancer, given its severity and stage. Atypical results are considered surviving a cancer that has less than a 50 percent five-year survival rate. Patients should consult an expert to discuss specific treatment plans and the possible outcomes before making medical decisions.