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Cancer Survivor Spotlight Part IX

Georgia and Van J. Gardner.

A while back in the Emery County Progress, Judi Bishop mentioned a little girl by the name of "Cathy" Gardner. Let me tell you more about her. You see, she was our little girl, Kathryn Beth Gardner. She was 7 years old when she was diagnosed with leukemia and was given four to five weeks to live. The people of Carbon and Emery counties were so very kind to her. She had acute lympathus leukemia and spent a lot of time in the hospital. We kept her for 17 months, not four or five weeks. During this time she had over 50 blood transfusions. I would watch the doctors and nurses walk out of her room shedding tears because they couldn't put the needle in her veins - again. They didn't have all the drugs to help leukemia patients in the 1950s like they have now, and the few they did have would kill the good cells as well as the bad. There was only one drug they could use and so she had to have blood transfusions.

Even with her problem, I never thought I would have cancer. A doctor asked me later if I had any history of cancer in my family and I told him "No."

My family consisted of two sisters and myself. My older sister always worried for fear she would get cancer, but she didn't have any checkups with her doctor. Then in 1994, I lost her to a quick-growing cancer. My younger sister developed Guilliam Barre (known as French Polio) which paralyzed her diaphragm. This was one of a very few visits she had ever made to a doctor in her life. In 1997 she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She went into the hospital and we lost her in less than two weeks to this cancer. This left me the only survivor in my family.

Kathryn Beth Gardner at Price Hospital

Not long after my younger sister passed away, I received a letter from the University of Utah Oncology Department inviting me to be a part of a cancer screening trial that the National Cancer Institute was conducting. The name was PLOC- prostate, lung, ovarian and colorectal. There would be tests for these different types of cancer. Once a year for five years I was to go to the University of Utah Hospital and be screened for the applicable cancers that would concern me. Then for nine more years I will fill out a questionnaire.

I felt that I owed it to my sisters and my daughter to accept this offer and maybe it would help someone else. I still wasn't going to have cancer. After the screening I was told that I had some polyps in my colon and was advised to see my doctor.

I had my first colonoscopy in 1999, but because of side effects of medication that I was taking, the tests didn't show anything clearly. The next year, April 5, 2000, I had my second colonoscopy and still I was sure I didn't have cancer.

However, because of a very aware doctor, I was operated on the very next day for colon cancer.

It has now been five years since I had my surgery and the doctors tell me that they have found no more signs of cancer.

Knowing all this, I plead with all of you to have the tests your doctor recommends and have them regularly, just as I do. I feel truly blessed for having survived for five years now and I thank my Heavenly Father for giving me a chance to stay around longer than my sisters were able to. The people who work with you through this are just wonderful. They really care about you and I will be eternally grateful for their help and acts of kindness. And also the special help my family and friends gave to me.

Please, get your checkups on a regular basis. That is the best advice I can give to anyone.

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