Vim & Vigor - Spring 2018 - University of Virginia - 56

remove the tumors in her colon and
liver. She was healthy enough to have
both the colon and liver surgeries on the
same day: Colorectal surgeon Charles
Friel, MD, removed the colon cancer
at the same time that her liver tumors
were removed.

Focusing on Fighting

Garrison is grateful that she was able to
leave her job to focus on fighting cancer
full time: "I just stayed so busy getting
my life in order and having treatment
... I couldn't focus on anything but my
family and health." She knew she was in
the best hands but also prepared for the
worst: "The first thing I did was throw
out every pair of my high heels, thinking,
'I'll never need those.' I started cleaning
out closets." Garrison even asked a friend
if she'd be another mom for her children.
The chemotherapy treatments and surgeries went well. But a follow-up scan a
year later revealed cancer was now in her
right lung. She immediately went back
to UVA: "A few days later, I was at UVA
having VAT (video-assisted thoracic)
surgery. Dr. David Jones did that. My

WEBSITE

Get Screened for Cancer
When April Garrison turned 50, she was dealing with fibroids. A decision
was made with her care provider to treat her fibroids first, thus delaying
her colonoscopy. Three years later, cancer was found in her colon and
liver. "April is a great example of how a complex problem can be solved
with a strong multidisciplinary team. However, I encourage everyone to
get a screening colonoscopy at age 50, and hopefully we can prevent
people having such advanced disease," says UVA colorectal surgeon
Charles Friel, MD. Learn more about screening for colorectal (colon)
cancer at uvahealth.com/colorectalscreening.

oncologist in Harrisonburg is fabulous.
She was key to getting me to him. I feel
like I had a great cancer team."
Last July, Garrison achieved a major
milestone: An imaging scan showed
no sign of cancer. Because she is five
years out from a cancer diagnosis, she
is considered a "survivor" and no longer
needs imaging scans every six months.
"It's a good feeling but also feels like I
don't have a parachute," she says. "But

I do know there is help just a phone
call away."
Adjusting to a cancer-free life,
Garrison noticed recently that she could
allow herself to be annoyed by little
things. Physically, she's back to enjoying skiing and working out at the gym.
She's no longer plagued by the extreme
fatigue she felt before her diagnosis.
Now 61, Garrison says, "I feel as
healthy as ever. Maybe even better." ■

CATCHING COLON CANCER
EARLY IS KEY
After facing stage 4 colon cancer, April Garrison says, "The statistics don't support me
being alive." She is among a relatively small percentage of longtime survivors after such
a diagnosis. Catching colon cancer at the earliest stage is key, as survival rates reveal:
The five-year relative survival rate* for people with

STAGE 1 colon cancer is about 92 percent
STAGE 2 colon cancer ranges from 87 to 63 percent
STAGE 3 colon cancer ranges from 89 to 53 percent
STAGE 4 colon cancer drops to 11 percent
*Relative survival rates, according to the American Cancer Society, compare people who have cancer with
people in the overall population. For example, if the five-year relative survival rate for a specific type and stage
of cancer is 90 percent, it means that people who have that cancer are about 90 percent as likely to live for at
least five years after being diagnosed as people who don't have that cancer. These percentages are from the
National Cancer Institute, based on people diagnosed with colon cancer between 2004 and 2010.

56

SP RIN G 2 0 1 8

Meet the woman who

BEAT THE ODDS

uvahealth.com/april


http://www.uvahealth.com/colorectalscreening http://www.uvahealth.com/april

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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