As a 28 year old mother of five boys, ranch wife Carolyn Hadley found herself in a fight for her life.
Posted August 3, 2012
Diagnosed with cervical cancer, Hadley faced it head-on. “My God, what is going to happen to my little boys,” was Hadley’s first thought. “My husband, Jack, thought I was bullet-proof.” After a hysterectomy and five years of follow-up appointments, Hadley was declared cancer-free.
Several years later, in 1986, a bout with the flu left Hadley exhausted and worried that she again had cancer, but the diagnosis was MS. “I have learned how to live with this auto-immune disease and count myself lucky in comparison to some others who have it,” Hadley stated.
In 1992, Hadley’s health was again raising questions. “I felt kind of lousy most of the time,” she recalled. After undergoing some tests and seeing some specialists, an endoscopic procedure revealed a large ampulliary tumor of the pancreas and liver that was cancerous. This time the odds of surviving the surgery, let alone defeating the cancer, were stacked against her. She had only a 20 percent chance of surviving the surgery (a full Whipple procedure) and a six to eight percent chance of actually surviving the cancer. “I asked him what other options I had. He looked at me with such compassion and slowly shook his head and said absolutely none! He explained this was the only way, and that it was such a tough one.”
After surviving the surgery, Hadley recovered in the hospital for a month, and then was sent home with tubes, bags, and treatments that were a part of her life for the next several months. She even had to give herself injections every four hours for the six months following the surgery. “I found such strength with those I love, and my deep belief in God,” Hadley said.
It was only a few years later that Hadley faced her third battle with cancer. A former teenage lifeguard, Hadley noticed a small growth on her forearm. She watched it for a few days, and then made an appointment with a dermatologist. He biopsied it and confirmed that Hadley was once again squaring off against her old nemesis, cancer – this time squamous cell cancer. Another surgery was needed to remove the entire growth along with a surrounding margin of tissue just to make sure they got it all. Since then she has had a couple of other spots removed, but none have been cancerous.
“We all wanted that ‘Coppertone’ tan,” Hadley joked, but added a serious warning, “So all of you who love the sun, just be aware that down the road, you could be just like me and have all those hours in the sun come back to haunt you. Take some simple precautions and be safe.”
Hadley also offered some hard-earned wisdom to the Relay For Life audience: “Sometimes the way that God handles things, isn’t the way we want. If you know someone who is going through this terrible battle, offer your help, empathy, and compassion, for these things are never forgotten. I truly believe if we can put a man on the moon, then we should be able to find a cure for cancer,” Hadley stated. But until that time, she encouraged her audience to be vigilant and talk to their physicians about their concerns.
She ended her speech with the sweetest words spoken after a cancer diagnosis has taken place, “I am a survivor!”