Vim & Vigor - Spring 2018 - University of Virginia - 55

The

Fight of

Her Life
Eight years after her diagnosis,
April Garrison is among a small but
growing group of survivors of colon
cancer's most lethal stage BY KELLY CASEY

PHOTOS BY JACKSON SMITH PHOTOGRAPHY

T

he intensity is indescribable.
That is how April Garrison
describes the day she heard
a doctor say, "You have four
to six months to live." At the time,
Garrison was in her early 50s, working as a dental hygienist alongside her
husband at his Harrisonburg, Virginia,
dental practice.
On the day she learned she had colon
cancer that had spread to her liver, she
ended up in the emergency room: "I
couldn't stop vomiting ... It was just
emotional shock," she says. "I later
learned from an oncologist that about
half of people diagnosed with something
really severe have physical symptoms
from the emotional part of it."
Garrison can't be sure why-almost
eight years since hearing that dire prognosis-she is alive and well, thrilled to
get to see her daughter join her father's

practice as a dentist and to see her son
launch his career after graduate school.

Creating a Cancer Team
But she gives a lot of credit to the
highly specialized surgeons at UVA
Cancer Center. As soon as her doctors
in Harrisonburg explained what she
was facing, she went to UVA for a second opinion. Garrison also went to New
York's Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer
Center. There, experts conīŦrmed that
the plan recommended by UVA cancer experts-including surgeon Reid
Adams, MD, who specializes in liver and
pancreas cancers-was best.
The plan was to shrink the liver
tumor with several months of chemotherapy with care being given by her
local oncologist in Harrisonburg, only
10 minutes from Garrison's home. She
would then go to UVA for surgery to
SPRING 2018

55



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vim & Vigor - Spring 2018 - University of Virginia

Contents
Vim & Vigor - Spring 2018 - University of Virginia - Cover1
Vim & Vigor - Spring 2018 - University of Virginia - Cover2
Vim & Vigor - Spring 2018 - University of Virginia - Contents
Vim & Vigor - Spring 2018 - University of Virginia - 2
Vim & Vigor - Spring 2018 - University of Virginia - 3
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Vim & Vigor - Spring 2018 - University of Virginia - Cover3
Vim & Vigor - Spring 2018 - University of Virginia - Cover4
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