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A Beautiful Story of Strength and Recovery
She went back to the family physician and requested a colonoscopy. The doctor performing the colonoscopy said he too thought it was hemorrhoids, and that he would fix them by banding them while doing the colonoscopy. However, that simple procedure turned into many hours in surgery. When she woke up in recovery, the surgeon was holding her hand with tears in his eyes, and his first words to her were, “Thank God you got here when you did – you have cancer.” Upon hearing this, she did not feel scared, she did not feel sad. She just felt relief.
The next several hours after the surgery were a whirlwind. The first person she remembers coming into her room was Dr. Kelli Cawley, an oncologist with Memorial Health System’s Strecker Cancer Center. Jodie said she was like an angel that came in and reassured her that everything would be fine. Jodie loves Dr. Cawley and she cannot thank her enough for her friendship and support that has continued past her diagnosis and treatment. It also meant the world to Jodie that Dr. Cawley took time with her kids as they were scared. She explained everything to them and drew pictures.
They found that the cancer did spread into her muscles, but did not see any more malignant tumors. They scheduled and performed a colon resection. During this time, she felt at peace, thanks to many prayers, her friends and her will to see her kids grow up. She started radiation. Radiation was five days a week and she traveled one hour each way every day to treatment at the Strecker Cancer Center (she did not live in the area at the time). The radiation took away her energy and she learned to love cream of wheat, because that was all her body could tolerate.
Her youngest daughter was her travel companion. She traveled to every treatment with Jodie, until school started. She was adamant that she was not going to school because she had to be with her mom. When Jodie told her that she had to go to school, her daughter gave her a small stuffed animal to take to treatments with her so that she wouldn’t be alone.
The first couple of chemotherapy treatments for Jodie overlapped the last couple of radiation treatments. The last few chemotherapy treatments were very hard, but while Jodie was having her treatments, there was a little girl receiving chemotherapy at the same time. She thought to herself if the little girl could get through the treatments, so could she, and she needed to be brave.
Jodie was diagnosed in 2001; she is now 15 years cancer free. She said the top two things that got her through that horrific time were her faith and her children. She used to have colonoscopies every year, but because of her recovery, she has recently been promoted to a colonoscopy every three years. She believes she is a miracle, and she will never again be embarrassed to bring up symptoms if she truly believes something is wrong.
Jodie doesn’t know what she would do without Dr. Cawley and the staff at Memorial Health System and the Strecker Cancer Center. She believes that out of bad comes good, and she received so much encouragement and love from her children, her co-workers and her family. She is enjoying her second chance at life.