finds strength and hope when cancer strikes twice
Kelly doesn't know why he's alive seven years after doctors
discovered a softball-sized tumor in his lungs.
He's not sure why he survived advanced lung cancer when so many
don't, but he's grateful. Because five years later, his wife,
Jodee, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that had spread
through her stomach and colon.
She had supported and cared for him during his battle with the
disease. Now it was his turn.
Facing death yet again, the Glenoma, Washington, couple kept
the faith. "You don't give up," Terry says simply.
The couple's cancer siege began in 2002, when a doctor who had
X-rayed Terry's cloudy lungs grimly advised him to get his affairs
Seeking options, they took a tip from relatives and called Cancer
Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), a network of hospitals
that includes Seattle Cancer Treatment and Wellness Center in
The center and its affiliates take a "whole person" approach
to cancer care, combining traditional therapies like chemo with
complementary treatments, including naturopathy, Chinese medicine,
acupuncture, and mind-body medicine.
"They never talked negatively to us," Jodee says of the doctors
and staff they saw. "You want a doctor who believes that there's
Terry spent 17 days in intensive care at the CTCA's hospital
in Tulsa, Oklahoma, before starting treatment at the Center
in Renton. There, he received six months of chemotherapy with
oncologist Dr. Nick Chen and a diet and supplement regimen under
the guidance of naturopathic physician Heidi Lucas.
Terry is officially in remission, having passed the seven-year
mark this fall.
"Seven years in a patient with advanced-stage lung cancer is
almost unheard of," says Dr. Chen. "Metronomic chemotherapy,"
in which the drugs are given in lower, but more frequent doses
over a prolonged period of time, helped put Terry's disease
into long-term remission, he says.
Certain genetic traits of Terry's cancer also might have made
it more susceptible to chemotherapy, Chen says. "These are all
important areas of research that we're pursuing so that we can
help more patients with cancer like Terry's."
A man of strong faith, Terry nevertheless feels like one of
the lucky ones. He had been a smoker for 30 years.
"You have your doubts," he says. "You see people with lung cancer
and it's a killer. Why I was picked to survive, I don't know."
Jodee has her own theory: "He was too bull-headed to leave,"
she says with a wink.
The couple, who will celebrate their 38th wedding anniversary
this year, thought they had beaten the odds.
Then, in 2007, Jodee's cancer was discovered during bowel surgery
related to her Crohn's disease, which causes chronic inflammation
of the gastrointestinal tract. Doctor's found carcinoid tumors,
a less-common, slow-growing cancer, in her stomach and colon.
The couple returned to cancer treatment, this time to focus
on Jodee. She remembers thinking, "Oh well, we'll get through
this because we got through his."
It was a difficult chemotherapy regimen because of Jodee's severe
bowel obstruction, says Chen, but she slowly regained her appetite
and was able to put weight on.
Following chemotherapy, she went on an oral kidney cancer medication
and doing so well that she's back at her old job as a bus driver
for the White Pass School District.
"I feel good," she says.
On those days she's feeling down, Terry is quick with the pep
talk. "He's really stepped up to the plate," says Jodee, adding
that her own caregiving stint was "a picnic" compared to his.
Besides each other, Jodee and Terry have the support of their
three grown children and of people from throughout Eastern Lewis
County who heard of their plight. In their own community of
Glenoma, residents and school district employees raised thousands
of dollars at fundraisers to help the couple with expenses.
Drawing strength from friends, family and their faith, the couple
vows to stand firm against cancer's one-two punch. "You've got
to have a fighting spirit," Jodee says.
Seattle Cancer Treatment and Wellness Center is an affiliate
of Cancer Treatment Centers of America, a network of hospitals
that integrate oncology with complementary and natural therapies.
For more information and cancer-fighting tips, call (206) FOR
HOPE (367-4673) or visit
Pam McGaffin of Moore Ink. PR, writes
articles about important health, family and community issues
for non-profit organizations.