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Smiling headshot of Cathy, colon cancer survivor.

Meet Cathy

Colon Cancer Survivor

"I knew that Moffitt Cancer Center was where I needed to be in order to live."

Cathy was an elementary school assistant principal when she learned an important lesson. It involved paying attention—to her body.

Cathy is diagnosed with advanced colon cancer

While she had always seen her doctor regularly and had a colonoscopy at 50 that turned out fine, Cathy felt for several years that something wasn’t right with her body. As busy adults often do, she attributed it to the stress of her job, as well as not eating or exercising properly.

A visit to her OB/GYN revealed some irregular bleeding. But with her school’s state testing going on, she decided she couldn’t miss work. Eight months later, she noticed more bleeding and knew she needed a second colonoscopy. On the day after Christmas, she was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer.

“I knew that Moffitt Cancer Center was where I needed to be in order to live,” Cathy says. “Once I was in Moffitt, I knew I would survive.”

Chemotherapy treatment for colon cancer precedes surgery

Her treatment required three months of chemotherapy before surgery could even take place. On the day of her first infusion, an additional drug was added to address lesions on her liver, at which time she was informed her colon cancer was now stage 4. Thankfully chemotherapy treatment and surgery to remove her ascending colon and lymph nodes were successful. Her liver was free of cancer and the lesions burned. She received three more months of chemotherapy, and eventually a clean bill of health.

During her treatments, Cathy asked her faculty to remain quiet regarding her battle with cancer. She did not want her students or their parents to know what she was going through. But curiously, she received inspiration from a brave student who had faced his own battle with cancer as a kindergartner. Months later she spoke to him, telling him he was her hero. Part of her message was that “I knew I would get through the battle if I could be half as brave as he was,” Cathy recalls.

Cathy is thriving after successful colon cancer treatment

Now retired and enjoying life, she raves about the care she received at Moffitt. She’s also thankful for the way her doctors and nurses treated her. Not like a number, but like a family member.

Cathy truly believes cancer changed her—for the better.

“I’m not the person I used to be,” she says. “I’m a better version because I appreciate life and I don’t get stressed out over the little things.” It’s a lesson all of us would do well to learn.