Fri, 16 November 2018
Serena Wills is a native New Yorker and currently resides in the Washington, DC area. She holds a BA in Policy Studies from Syracuse University an MPA from Virginia Tech and studying for her MA in Health and Wellness Coaching. She’s a nonprofit guru, a published author and spoken word artist. Her previous publications include her first poetry book titled, Reconstruction, Pieces of Life, Volume 1 was released in 2014 and is available on her website, Amazon and Barnes and Noble. She’s also published in numerous anthologies and is a contributing writer/health and wellness blogger for online magazines and websites.
Serena is a mother to her beautiful son and is an advocate for Ovarian Cancer, GYN Cancers, HIV/AIDS, Lymphoma and Lyme Disease research and is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc..
You can contact Ms. Wills via:
Tara Lessard’s Story …
It was August 2015. I spent a lot of time crying by the Delaware River, just blocks from my Morrisville, Pennsylvania home. I suffered from acid reflux for a year and knew something more was wrong but didn’t know what it was. I tried diet modification, sleeping sitting up and natural remedies to no avail. I finally went to a local hospital ER in September after having extreme pain in my stomach with immense amount of pressure when I sat down. They did a CT scan and quickly admitted me to the hospital where I was told the gynecologist would provide results the next day and family should be present. It was then the doctor shared I had stage 4 ovarian cancer and there was nothing they could do for me. I was in shock. No one in my family had cancer.
I ended up starting treatment at a nearby cancer hospital. They said I was a textbook case and recommended chemotherapy and surgery – and said I would be fine. I didn’t get a sense they knew me or cared about my concerns. They didn’t see me as a unique individual.
I reached out to Cancer Treatment Centers of America after my sister researched other options. Unfortunately, I was too sick to travel, so I treated closer to home at another cancer center and underwent an aggressive plan given the cancer growth beyond the ovaries. I had debilitating pain, eventually leading to use of a wheelchair. After a few months, I learned the disease metastasized to my spleen. Doctors said I probably had two years to live. I was in my mid-40s and wanted more. I went back into research mode, consulting with multiple, well-known facilities who all said the same thing. That’s when I picked up the phone and followed through with CTCA to get another opinion.
Tara’s CTCA Experience
In March 2017, I flew to CTCA in Atlanta and met with Dr. Geisler who said, “Your cancer is my priority.” He explained he would remove the spleen and any other evidence of the disease. After surgery, I would undergo six rounds of chemotherapy and was a good candidate for a new immunotherapy drug.
I instantly loved my team and had faith in Dr. Geisler.
By late April, I was set for surgery, but got extremely sick and was admitted to the local hospital for obstructed bowel. Once released, I couldn’t eat or drink, so I went to another hospital for three weeks. They told me they wanted to operate, but I refused. I knew I needed to get back to CTCA. The doctors put in a central line for TPN, so my mom, sister and I hired a medical transport van and drove down to Atlanta so I could have surgery there.
Surgery was intense, involving my spleen, pieces of my small bowel and more. It was successful. A week later, I went back for emergency surgery followed by an extended hospital stay. The care was amazing. Everyone from Nursing, Transportation, Pastoral Care and Cancer Fighters spent time with us. Dr. Rosenberg performed adjustments to help my back, Dr. Johnson helped my side effects with acupuncture, and Physical Therapy ensured I got up to walk. After discharge, I returned to CTCA every three weeks for chemo and received my last treatment on my 45th birthday. My CA levels drastically decreased…and I remain cancer free.
I am so grateful for the entire staff at CTCA. My mom and I are now patient and caregiver advocates. We love our changing roles in this journey and are so happy we can give back by helping others. I am so grateful not to be just living, but thriving.
Recently, Serena and Tara were on our show continuing their conversation about ovarian cancer.
During the conversation, the ladies talked about:
– What they have been up to and their involvement in ovarian cancer month events (last September)
You can contact Ms. Lessard via:
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God bless, peace, be well and keep the faith,
Direct download: THE_DR._VIBE_SHOW_-_SERENA_WILLS_AND_TARA_LESSARD_-_OVARIAN_CANCER_PT._2_-_NOVEMBER_1_-_2018.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:18am EST