A Cancer Survivor Story: Gayla

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My name is Gayla Rhodes and I am from Orlando, Florida.

My whole world was turned upside down on 15-DEC-2011 when I was diagnosed with Stage 3A uterine cancer and to top it off this was a very rare form of uterine cancer. Since I had been a huge fan of Lance Armstrong; donor to LIVESTRONG in the past; and had done a bicycle Ride for the Roses in 2004… I frantically reached out to LIVESTRONG Emotional Support Line. I had ZERO idea of what, IF anything, that LIVESTRONG would do for me, even though I had donated to them in the past. I am not one to call or ask anyone for help, I’ll do things myself, but with the cancer diagnosis, that went out the window quickly. I needed help and I needed it now! I was frantic but tried to be cool and calm. My LIVESTRONG support counselor knew exactly what I was going through, and he came to my rescue immediately!

I have an engineering background, so I was looking for the process and procedures to get well. What do I have to do in order to sleep? Not to scream? Not to cry? What do I eat? How do I deal with treatment and the side effects? What do I deal with first, second, etc? I just wanted to live, period, but was not sure what to expect from treatment. I had to have surgery, 25 pelvic radiation treatments, 3 brachytherapy radiation (rude treatment!) treatments and two types of Chemo. One chemo that works with radiation (2 treatments) and another chemo mix (4 treatments) that followed after the radiation.

My husband, family and friends were freaking out too. My hospital, MD Anderson Cancer Center in Orlando, was VERY supportive with their care but I needed someone outside of this circle of family, friends, doctors, hospitals, etc. to help me sort this out in some logical way. My LIVESTRONG Support Counselor was my emotional life raft in one heck of a storm of cancer data, treatment data, etc. I cannot believe that my counselor stuck with me for 7-8 months for free. I am forever grateful for his help. It has meant so much to me and helped me through this nightmare.

Secondly, it seems I was hard of hearing and could not grasp all of the details the doctors were telling me. I ordered the two free LIVESTRONG Guidebooks and really had no idea if they would help or not…BUT…there it was…my procedures and processes along with lists of questions to ask my doctors. Those notebooks told me how to get from point A, to B and C. This process had been done before and there it was in my LIVESTRONG books. Those notebooks made my head spin much less and I kept them near for reference.

Lastly, on those days when there were constant visits to the hospital for treatment and the build-up of anxiety that comes prior to each chemo or from daily radiation, I found the LIVESTRONG Facebook content to help me too. It would always surprise me when I read something posted by LIVESTRONG and found it was just what I needed. Certainly made me know, without a doubt, I was not alone. Also, the one “Fight Like Hell” post hit me at the best freaking time when my eating was an issue, fatigue was plaguing me and I just wanted it all to stop. That Fight Like Hell statement made something inside me do just that!

If I had one piece of advice to give someone affected by cancer it would be “Don’t do this alone” – Call LIVESTRONG Emotional Navigation Support team upon diagnosis OR if you are supporting someone with cancer, contact LIVESTRONG as well.

Thank you Athan Schindler my Emotional Support Counselor!
Thank you everyone at Livestrong!
Thank you all of the 28 million other cancer survivors!

Sincerely,

Gayla Rhodes, 9 month cancer survivor

5 thoughts on “A Cancer Survivor Story: Gayla”

  1. Lawrencm says:

    Rock on my Peach Sister!!!! XOXOXO

  2. Albe2 says:

    That’s wonderful…I am a two year uterine leiomyosarcoma survivor. Mine was 3 A also. Since my 28 radiation treatments in 2010 I have had no other complications and every 6 month ct scans. I am so happy for you Gayla… I know another woman with the same diagnosis as mine who is 6 yrs out with no other treatments. I love to hear about long term survivors who have the same diagnosis as mine. Hang in there… Life is good and so is God. Be so blessed…Christine Albe

    1. grflorida says:

      Love to hear your story too Christine! Thank you! :) – Gayla

  3. Steve Welsch says:

    Way to go Gayla!

  4. Lsdees says:

    You look wonderful! I live in ft lauderdale and I have been traveling to and from MD Anderson in Orlando since January for reconstructive surgery…. I, too, love those doctors and assistants !

    Linda

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