Everyone knows someone who is struggling or has struggled with cancer. Whether a friend, family member, or co-worker, cancer always hits close to home. Margaret Vanna, 69, is not only a survivor of kidney cancer, but also the grandma of one of our Lifers, Justin Luna.
It was in April of 2006 when Crown Point resident Barbara Phelps started her day feeling under the weather and soon got a headache like one she had never felt before. After calling twin daughters Kathleen and Elizabeth Brown and asking that they return home from their dad’s a few blocks away to feed the dogs, Barb quickly started showing uncharacteristic behavior that raised concern in the sisters.
When people throw out the word cancer, you can often hear a pin drop in the room. When Highland resident Deanna Schmidt heard the word cancer in her doctor’s office a few years back, she thought, “Worst case scenario – it’s skin cancer.”
Every cancer survivor tells a different story. Some wage long, patient wars of attrition against the disease, some fight a short and dramatic battle. No one story is the same. For people like Matt McCall, sharing their unique experience is one of the most important things they can do.
After moving from East St. Louis in 1990, Stacey Smith has come to love the melting pot that is Northwest Indiana in the nearly three decades that she’s called Gary her home. So when Stacey was diagnosed with breast cancer - ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) - in 2016, her family, friends, and healthcare professionals have helped her overcome every obstacle that she faced.
Fighting for her survival and staying strong in the face of adversity is, unfortunately, something in which Shawniece Robinson has become accustom. Now in her late-30’s, Shawniece has battled cancer three times in just twelve years and, while some around her lost their own battles, she’s been fortunate enough to now take what she’s learned throughout her life and pass it on to those around her.
Kerri Midkiff received a stage II breast cancer diagnosis in March of 2009, and for Kerri, her husband, and their two daughters (six and four years old), the news came as quite a shock.
This year, Altovise Ferguson will be marking 14 years since her diagnosis of lymphoma, a spinal tumor that she was on the receiving end of when she was just 27 years old. Her journey towards becoming cancer-free wasn’t easy, but, for the gospel-recording artist, songwriter, and actress, the eye-opening experience changed her life and led to opportunities, accomplishments, and milestones that she might not otherwise have experienced or achieved.
In late 2014, Amber Alexander got news that no parent ever wants to hear - a CT scan of her son, Elijah, revealed a 3.6 x 4.4 cm mass in the fourth ventricle of his brain, near his cerebellum and brain stem.
For cancer survivors, going through a combination of surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation or other treatment can take an incredible toll on their physical and mental well-being. The journey to remission can be a daunting, uphill climb that leaves a person drained of any strength or stamina they once might’ve had. Battling that and helping cancer survivors get healthy together is the La Porte County YMCA and their LIVESTRONG at the YMCA program.
In September of 2013, Betsy Chinn went in for her routine, yearly mammogram which is something that she never missed. This time was different, however. The next day she got a call from the doctor asking her to come back into the office.