Gerri West, a lifelong resident of the Great Bend area and cancer survivor, lives by the “Three P’s: positivity, prayer, and people.” This motto has gotten her through a lot, including her 24-year battle with a lymphoma diagnosis, five separate rounds of chemotherapy and five remissions.
In 1998, Gerri noticed a lump in her neck, near her jaw. She thought it might be a dental issue, so she went to her dentist who recommended that she see a medical doctor. After a biopsy and surgical removal of a lymph node, Gerri was diagnosed with Stage 1 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
At the time, Gerri was scared and had a difficult time understanding why this would happen to her. “I have to admit when I was first diagnosed, I was angry,” Gerri says, “I couldn’t believe it. I thought, ‘Why me? Why me, God?’ That didn’t last real long, and I came up with the idea of the three P’s: positivity, prayer, people. Because with any situation, if you’re positive, your outcome is going to be better.”
Juliana McClellan has always been on top of her regular Pap tests and cervical cancer screenings, not only because it is important for her own health, but also because she has a family history of endometriosis, a common gynecological condition. That’s why when she experienced a longer-than-usual menstrual cycle with heavy bleeding, she assumed endometriosis was the cause. However, in November of 2021, a Pap test revealed that a mass on her cervix was actually the cause of the bleeding. Shortly thereafter, Juliana was diagnosed with Stage 4 cervical cancer.
After her gynecological oncologist, Dr. Jacqueline Morgan, referred her to Central Care Cancer Center in Emporia, Juliana found herself in an exam room, being told that she would need immediate radiation treatment. She was scared, confused, and worried. “The first 15 minutes, I was just trying to wrap my head around everything, like how to tell my kids,” Juliana says, “Thankfully, my fiancée was there.”
A 35-year-old mother of three boys and engaged to be married to the love of her life, this seemed like an impossible situation, one that she was not ready to overcome. That was until she went outside, took a moment, and had a conversation with Oncology Assistant Mandy Springeman. “Mandy, just from day one, she held me and cried,” says Juliana, “You know, she’s a cancer survivor too and being able to have somebody in that moment when I was diagnosed, tell me that I was where I needed to be and that I would be okay, was just music to my ears.” (more…)
Pete Krier really knows how to throw a party. The Claflin, Kansas native just turned 65 and beat what’s considered Stage III colon cancer. So Pete hosted an “I beat cancer” party, and roughly 500 friends, neighbors, family and community members gathered to celebrate Pete’s victory, his birthday, but also were educated on the importance of getting screened for colon cancer.
Last year, two days before Christmas, 57-year-old Kevin Barrett woke up in the hospital with no recollection of the ambulance ride, the MRI he received at Newman Regional Health or the surgery he had on his brain at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City. He woke up to find out that he had brain cancer.