Kelly Terry had six months of treatment for colon cancer when the bad news came – her scan showed disease progression.
It was tough news that her oncologist, Scott Pierce, MD, had to deliver. “He had the choice that day to change treatments, but he stuck with the same one and the very next scene, six weeks later, showed extreme improvement,” Terry said. “Dr. Pierce made decisions during my treatments that came from experience … that made the difference.
“You can have all the technology in the world, but if you don’t have the experience and knowledge behind it, it’s useless,” she said.
Terry was surprised when she was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2015 at age 44. She had no family history; no risk factors at all. She came to Saint Joseph for surgery after being treated for Crohn’s disease at another facility with no luck. Dr. Dvorak completed a colon resection and hysterectomy – the tumor was so big that it affected multiple organs. The surgery was successful, so with Dr. Dvorak referred her to CHI Saint Joseph Health – Cancer Care Center, she never considered going anywhere else.
Terry underwent 77 chemotherapy treatments over the course of two years – “and it was a battle,” she said. Since 2017, her cancer has been in remission. Her husband drove her to every appointment while working night shift, sometimes sleeping in the car while she was getting treatments.
The day she learned she was in remission – which she calls, “hands down, the best day of my life” – felt like a second chance. When Dr. Pierce told her the results of the scans, he recalled the day he had to share the news months before that her cancer was progressing and shared that it took awhile before he could come into the exam room.
“That told me that I wasn’t just a number,” Terry said. “I knew that I wasn’t, but that came from his heart and he had remembered that day.”
She gives high marks to Pierce’s medical knowledge and abilities, but also stresses the importance of the environment at the cancer care center.
“These people are like my family,” she said. “I came in and I felt so at home and I felt so taken care of. I felt like they had everything under control and I felt at home. I think that’s another reason I did so well … because of the comfort level and just the reassurance that they know their stuff.”
And she can share with her “family” at CHI Saint Joseph Health – Cancer Care Center news of her other family. “I have a daughter that is 21 … I got to see her graduate from high school,” she said through tears. “I got to see her get her associate degree.”
She has two sons, both in middle school now. “They need their mom and I wouldn’t be here with them if it wasn’t for decisions Dr. Pierce made,” she said.
Now in remission, Terry takes joy in the little things, like not having to take medicine when she gets out of bed or dreading chemotherapy. Things are normal, she said. “People take that for granted,” she said.
She advises anyone going through treatments for cancer to try not to stress, take care of yourself and try to keep your life as close to normal as possible. “As for the care, make sure you get top notch care and that’s what I got,” she said, adding she had taken her mother to CHI Saint Joseph Health – Cancer Care Center when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. “I thank God, as I know that he works miracles through others by giving them knowledge and wisdom. For me, that was my entire oncology team at Saint Joseph cancer center.”
Most of all, Terry recommends people maintain a positive attitude. “There is hope … cancer is not a death sentence like it used to be,” she said.
For more information about cancer care at CHI Saint Joseph Health, call 859.313.HOPE (4673) or visit chisaintjosephhealth.org/lexington-cancer-care.