Sutter Cancer Centers
Marsha - Growth Through Hardship; Growing from Hardship
Given the opportunity to change one thing about their lives, most cancer patients would choose to do without the cancer. But not 32-year-old therapist, Marsha. “I wouldn’t take it away. I’m a totally different person because of my cancer and I’m thankful for the growth,” said Marsha.
Marsha continued, “I’ve had a huge shift in perspective about everything. I work with severely emotionally disturbed children and their families and the cancer gave me an understanding of dealing with stressful situations that I can pass on to them. And things that used to get to me, just don’t bother me anymore.”
Like most growth, Marsha’s was not without pain. In 2005, what Marsha believed would be a normal pap smear returned abnormal results. To be safe, Marsha’s physician, Molly Baker, M.D., recommended her to an oncologist to screen for cancer. “I was shocked because I was only 29, ” said Marsha, “but Dr. Baker wanted to play it safe.”
After results from a number of additional tests also came back abnormal, Marsha underwent a biopsy that determined she was dealing with endocervical adenocarcinoma, a type of cervical cancer unrelated to HPV and found in less than 10 percent of patients. Adenocarcinoma starts in glandular tissue and is an aggressive cancer, so Marsha was immediately referred to Anne Rodriguez, M.D., a specialist in gynecologic oncology at Sutter Cancer Center in Sacramento.
“After examining me and looking over my test results, Dr. Rodriguez decided to perform a procedure to remove my entire cervix, rather than give me a hysterectomy,” said Marsha. “It’s an uncommon surgery, but she felt that in a woman my age, it would be the best option, if the cancer had not spread beyond the cervix.”
During the surgery, a number of tests would be run to determine whether or not the cancer had moved beyond the cervix. If any of those tests came back positive, Marsha faced more extensive and invasive surgery.
“I went through a tough period of time,” said Marsha. “I was 29, only married for five years and had just started my career. But Dr. Rodriguez was great. She explained all the possibilities beforehand and my husband and I were able to discuss them and make decisions in advance. Since I would be sedated, it was important that he felt comfortable about the decisions that might have to be made. Thankfully, all the tests came back negative.”
Throughout her battle, Marsha noted the amazing level of care and attention she received at Sutter. “I was more than a number or just a patient,” said Marsha. “I was also amazed at the level of support Sutter offered. There were support groups and a resource library I used constantly. Cancer is a crazy thing to go through, but the level of medical care and support I received made it so much easier. I would absolutely put Sutter above any medical facility and I’m glad I have good medical insurance that lets me choose. I wouldn’t be as healthy as I am today without the help I got from the support staff—not just physically, but emotionally and psychologically healthy, as well.”
Marsha remained under the watchful eye of Dr. Rodriguez and the Sutter team every six weeks for the first two years. She considered it a major milestone when she reached the two-year mark cancer free and could stretch her visits to every six months
“If something did show up, I would absolutely choose Sutter again,” said Marsha.
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