Fighting colon cancer with a positive attitude

For some, cancer brings a sense of shock as they climb onto a roller coaster full of emotions. For others who hear the diagnosis, they take a more rational approach and plow forward.

When Ms. Betty Hazelwood heard she had colon cancer, she knew she would just have to move on with a sense of fight and optimism.

A resident of Taylor, Texas and a dedicated employee at the Department of Public Safety, Betty has seen a wide spectrum of cases working in criminal history. Her strong sense of reason and persistence helped her beat colon cancer.

Coming to terms with colon cancer

For years, Betty had met with Franklin John Smalley, MD, a family medicine physician on the medical staff at the Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Taylor. She kept up with her blood pressure levels and complied with routine mammograms. However, it wasn’t until over a year ago at the age of 59 that she went in for the recommended colonoscopy.

BettyShe had seen Vu Nhu Nguyen, MD, a gastroenterologist, who was able to perform the procedure at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Taylor. At that time large polyps were removed.

Dr. Nguyen showed her a sample of what was retrieved from the exam and told her that he suspected colon cancer. She had a remote family history of colon cancer on her mother’s side, but her own mother never had cancer and Betty never imagined she would have cancer.

“I just remember Dr. Nguyen holding the sample up and said he suspected it was cancer,” Betty said.

“Explore."

Dr. Nguyen said she had large abnormal polyps found during the screening, despite having no symptoms. He stresses that a colonoscopy is a vital screening test to prevent cancer — because if polyps are found early enough and removed, no further treatment is needed.

“I did worry some, but I don’t know,” Betty said. “I just thought, I’m going to beat it. I’m going to do what they say.”

From that day forward, Betty began her battle with cancer as she fought through chemotherapy.

She met with Laura M. Beaty, MD, an oncologist on the medical staff at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Round Rock who explained colon cancer to Betty and helped her through the drastic learning curve and new lifestyle requirements.

“Dr. Beaty was really nice,” Betty said. “She’s real down-to-earth and would ask if I had any questions to make sure I could understand.”

In addition, Betty would often bring along her son’s girlfriend, Rebecca, to help her comprehend the medical terms associated with cancer. Rebecca lives with Betty, and thanks to her medical background would help Betty understand her results.

Fighting the cancer

It was a strenuous process to endure chemotherapy and routine checkups, but Betty pushed forward. For six months she visited the Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Round Rock for treatment every two weeks.

“Betty always came in with a smile on her face. Her positive attitude kept her going through treatment,” Dr. Beaty said.

Betty still recalls all of her doctors and even the infusion nurses by name, saying everyone treated her so well.

“From the doctors to the nurses there, everybody was so nice,” Betty said. “I didn’t meet one person the whole time that didn’t get me whatever I needed.”

To help remove the cancer, Betty met with John F. Eckford, MD, a surgeon on the medical staff at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Temple who has a special emphasis in colon surgeries. Dr. Eckford explained the procedure and was able to perform the advanced surgery, despite a large amount of built-up tissue.

“Dr. Eckford came in more than once and checked me and talked to me,” Betty said. “He told me I was tough!”

Tough she is. Betty continued to work at her job throughout treatment, and said even though the therapy was hard at first, “The more I did it, the easier it got.”

Colon cancer, a thing of the past

After treatment and constant blood work, Betty’s tumor markers were slowly diminishing. She was encouraged and saw hope at the end of her battle.

When she had her first clean colonoscopy after treatment, she had done it. She beat colon cancer. She was able to get her port removed where she received chemo treatment and was now feeling victorious.

“It was great,” Betty said. “I told myself, well don’t go in there with an attitude that it came back, and it didn’t. It was really a sense of relief.”

Just recently, Betty went in for her routine colonoscopy to hear more good news. She is diligent with her follow-up care, closely monitoring polyps as some can turn cancerous in the future. She is grateful for her support system and loved ones who encouraged her throughout her care.

Download our free colorectal treatment guide.

Betty said all she could do to beat colon cancer was “what they always say— just fight it!”

About the author

Jill Taylor
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I contribute content and skills as a freelance writer for Baylor Scott & White Health. I enjoy improving our connection with our readers, patients and communities by assisting with a wide range of writing projects.

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Fighting colon cancer with a positive attitude