FOND DU LAC – Carol is no stranger when it comes to battling cancer. For the second time in a year, she’s finding herself face to face with the disease.
A year ago, she was diagnosed with lymphoma. After undergoing months of chemotherapy and radiation, she was able to breathe a sigh of relief: she was free of cancer.
But the good news wouldn’t last long. At Carol’s three month checkup, she told her physician at the Vince Lombardi Cancer Clinic in Oshkosh, Shamsuddin Virani, MD, that she had a funny feeling in her neck.
“And he thought he felt something under my arm, so he ran a CT scan,” said Carol. “My lymph nodes were clear, but there was a small spot on my pancreas.”
It’s not what Carol wanted to hear.
“That was a hard one,” she admitted. “To be finished with treatment and then find out you have to do it all over again; it was disheartening. It’ll probably be another year of treatment and I’ll have to have surgery.”
And pancreatic cancer itself was scary.
“I knew it wasn’t a good kind of cancer to have. I knew if it wasn’t caught early, it would probably kill me,” Carol said. “A friend of mine died from pancreatic cancer.”
The treatment this time around has been fairly manageable. There have been few side effects and for that Carol is thankful.
“I’ve never felt really bad, I never got really sick. I do get tired though. It’s the strangest feeling, knowing you have something that could kill you, but you’re still feeling pretty well.”
She’s determined not to let cancer get the best of her.
“I don’t let it get me down. If I’m tired, I just keep going. I stay busy. I schedule something every day of the week. Weekends are hard – they’re for washing and cleaning and who wants to do that?” she laughed.
Carol is grateful for the expertise and support of her cancer care team.
“I just love Dr. Virani. He doesn’t hesitate about anything and he follows through on everything,” said Carol. “The staff, the nurses, everyone is so wonderful. It’s amazing, all these people that take care of you. Even my anesthesiologist. One of the things I asked him was whether he could make my hair grow back faster. He smiled, took off his surgical cap, and he was bald too!”
Carol is walking and volunteering in Fond du Lac’s first ever Vince Lombardi Walk to Tackle Cancer this year. As someone who’s spent much of her retirement giving her time to others, it was a natural next step – even if she’ll still be fighting cancer at the same time. She’s hoping one of her daughters and a niece from Arizona will join her.
“The walk will bring attention to people with cancer and so many other illnesses that are bad in the world. I just like to help with things that I can.”
As for her Aurora Health Care family, Carol knows they’ll be there for her too as her battle continues.
“I trust these people with my life.”
How you can help
Sign up for one of 10 Lombardi Walk to Tackle Cancer events near you. Money raised will support local cancer care and research initiatives by Aurora Cancer Care and is eligible for a 50 percent match from the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation.
All proceeds from the Lombardi Walk to Tackle Cancer will stay local. To see all walk locations and join the team, go to LombardiWalk.org.