Survivor Roddie talks about her journey with uterine cancer and her new outlook on life after being declared cancer free.
What are the events that led up to your cancer diagnosis?
I was always very in tune with my body and did all the right things like eating well and exercising regularly, but I began to feel like something was not quite right. One day, I noticed some spotting and immediately felt that something was wrong. I called my trusted physician of over 20 years, and he did a biopsy. He called me a few days later with the news that I had uterine cancer and quickly put me in touch with a gynecologic oncologist at Northside Hospital Cancer Institute.
What treatment did you receive?
Within another two days, I was in the oncologist’s office where he officially confirmed my diagnosis and began telling me about treatment options. I underwent surgery for uterine cancer and had a total hysterectomy, immediately followed by chemotherapy (for about one year) and radiation therapy (2 weeks).
How and where did you receive support during your treatment and recovery? Did you utilize patient support resources at NHCI?
In the beginning of my diagnosis and treatment, I isolated myself. I did not like myself at the time and had given up on life, but then one day while checking in for an appointment at the oncologist's office, I noticed a piece of paper on the wall. It was an invitation to join an organization that supports individuals on their cancer journeys called Network of Hope. Once I began to feel a little better, I started going to the meetings and felt like my life started over. I had a brand-new group of friends who could relate to what I was going through and who were there to care for and support me. I also attended Camp Hope, which is a retreat for survivors hosted by Northside.
What advice do you have for someone navigating their treatment and recovery journey?
Allow the doctors and nurses to attend to your needs. Also, get involved with a support group as soon as you can. It is important to have people around who understand what you are going through. You will also need a spiritual group. Stay close to family and do not isolate yourself.
I would also recommend volunteering when ready. I volunteer because I want to give back as much as was given to me. It feels so good to volunteer.
I recognize that life is a gift and a privilege. Since my diagnosis, I have learned that you only have one chance at life, and I realized that I had not been living it the way it was supposed to be lived. Now I am so happy! I have my new friends and my new life. I am even breathing differently. I actually experienced cancer, surgery, radiation and chemo for over a year and have not missed a beat. I do not really think about it; all I think about is living.
How far out are you from treatment or is treatment ongoing?I am five years out and l recently went to the doctor and was declared clinically cured. So I am celebrating and embracing being healthy. I am doing more now than before my diagnosis. My plan is to do something different every week! I spend lots of time with my grandkids and enjoy shopping, as well as going on hikes and walks.
Closing ThoughtsI know who I am, I know what I want and I will not settle for less. I am explosively exploring everything; I look at life differently, and through this journey I found myself. I sparkle from within, and I do not allow people to dictate my journey. I now see that the world is a beautiful place.
*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.