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I've Learned That Cancer Doesn't Discriminate

Bathsheba Stephens, a then 42-year-old certified nursing assistant from Ft.Walton Beach, heard three words that changed her life forever: You have cancer.

Diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer that spread to her liver and ovaries, she had surgery  to remove part of her colon, and then turned to Dr. Tarek Eldawy, a medical oncologist with Sacred Heart Cancer Center. Because of her advanced-stage diagnosis, Dr. Eldawy presented her case to a team of specialists at Sacred Heart, including radiologists, pathologists and surgeons, and took the lead in planning a comprehensive, multidisdplinary treatment plan.

After two years of aggressive, successful chemotherapy treatments, Bathsheba was referred to Dr.Leo Villegas, a surgical oncologist with Sacred Heart, to remove half of her liver. "Thanks to a team approach to fighting Bathsheba's cancer, following this last surgery, we hope to have increased her five-year chance of survival from 5% to about  50%," says Dr. Villegas.

There is a very high success rate of treating  colon cancer when it's detected early through screening  colonoscopies, however, in its early stages, there are very few symptoms."I have to admit, I probably ignored a lot of the warning signs," Bathsheba says. "I attributed many of my symptoms to irritable bowel syndrome. I didn't have any abnormal pain and didn't feel sick."

Today, much to the delight of her team of physicians, Bathsheba is free of cancer and living life to its fullest. "The symptoms of colon cancer are sometimes embarrassing to talk about, but I encourage everyone to be aware of their body. Don't ignore any changes."

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