Fighting Cancer with Faith: Stephanie’s Journey Continues

Stephanie-2“I beat it once, I’ll beat it again.”

Patient Stephanie Madsen describes her journey with battling cancer as not only a fight for her life but a story to share with others; a story to motivate, encourage and give hope to others in her shoes.  She speaks candidly about her ups and downs on her blog, www.derailingmydiagnosis.com.

Stephanie was diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer of the cervix in early 2012. After having surgery and under-going an aggressive chemotherapy and radiation treatment, she was told she was cancer-free. “I was super excited!” says Stephanie, “I thought, I can finally move on and start planning the future.”

Stephanie and her husband Matt discovered the treatments had left them unable to conceive, so they made the decision to consider adoption. In the midst of planning, Stephanie started having pain in her stomach. “I felt this hard lump on my left side,” she explains, “I knew something wasn’t right and I was praying my cancer wasn’t back.” Next she would receive news she’d hoped not to hear, doctors found a massive tumor the size of a soft-ball.  Not only was her cancer was back, she would have to undergo emergency surgery to remove it. “I took it a lot harder than the first time,” says Stephanie, “this time I knew what it was and I knew it wasn’t going away.”

Swedish gynecologic oncologist, Dr. Mary Jo Schmitz has seen Stephanie through her battle and performed her surgery. Stephanie says overall the surgery went well and the good news was the tumor hadn’t attached to any other organ and it was successfully removed from her body. “I was in the best hands and I had complete confidence in my doctor,” she explains.

Since surgery, Stephanie has been put back on a treatment plan. She will have chemotherapy once a week for six weeks. “It’s a constant battle, but I’m confident that I will be cured again. I believe my story can help a lot of people, I truly believe I wouldn’t be able to fully understand cancer if I didn’t have this recurrence. I’m a fighter and I’m not giving up.”

If you would like to follow Stephanie’s journey, check out her blog at http://www.derailingmydiagnosis.com.

Fighting Cancer with Faith

“I can’t imagine not having my faith in a situation like this.”

At twenty-five years old, Stephanie Madsen thought she had her entire future planned out.  Newly married she wanted to move to a new city, buy a new house and start a family with her husband Matt. Life seemed to be perfect for Stephanie until one day her list of dreams quickly turned into a battle plan to fight cancer. “It was so tough, I felt like we had lost our freedom to plan our lives,” says Stephanie.

Earlier this year, Stephanie was diagnosed with large-cell neuroendocrine cancer of the cervix. “I had been trying to find out what was wrong with my body for almost a year and although I received bad news I was relieved to know what was finally wrong with me,” she explains. Not only would Stephanie have to endure a very long and aggressive chemotherapy/radiation treatment but she would also have to have a hysterectomy. “Hearing I had cancer was tough but hearing that I was going to have a hysterectomy at twenty-five was even tougher,” she explains. “We hope surrogacy can be an option for us one day but we’ve talked about adoption before and now that it’s a choice we might have to make, we’ve accepted it,” she says.

One wouldn’t expect to be embraced by smiles, hugs or laughs when speaking with Stephanie but she says her faith is what keeps her going. “I can’t imagine not having my faith in a situation like this. God is my rock and I know when I’m weak, he’ll be my strength. I just had to take my diagnosis and turn it into something positive. I thought ok, my sole purpose right now is to fight this cancer and be as strong of a solider as I can be. I’m a Christian and God will get me through this!”

Stephanie is currently under-going both chemotherapy and radiation treatments at Rocky Mountain Gynecologic Oncology here at Swedish Medical Center. “I love it here. The nurses and doctors really get to know you and develop a true friendship with you. For me during this experience to come into treatment and know who you’re going to be seeing and know that they truly care is so comforting,” says Stephanie. “Our patients are like family to us. We want every patient to feel as comfortable as possible as they go through treatment. It’s our duty to make sure that happens,” explains Dr. Mary Jo Schmitz.

If she’s not making new friends with other patients she’s updating the latest entry on her blog; her way to inspire others battling cancer (www.derailingmydiagnosis.com). “Cancer for me was really taboo. I never knew the details of it. I wanted people to lose the taboo with cancer so my blog is a way to open that door. I like to write about things like losing my hair! I was a hairstylist and I knew I was going to lose my hair so I shaved it off before it could fall out. It was so liberating and helped me take back control of this cancer,” says Stephanie.

After treatment Stephanie plans on vacationing with her husband in Hawaii! Her one piece of advice to others in treatment; “stay strong, it’s a battle and it’s gonna get hard but you can handle it, you will soon learn just how strong you are!”

To continue following Stephanie’s journey check out her blog at www.derailingmydiagnosis.com

Restoring Health Robotically

Ramona Olson has always chosen the healthier route in life. She exercises often, eats balanced and nutritious meals, never smokes and rarely drinks. So, when the 56-year old administrative assistant was told by the doctor that she had cancer, it just didn’t make sense. “I felt let down by my body and good habits,” explains Olson.


In October 2011, Olson was diagnosed with stage 2 endometrial cancer. Women over the age of 50 who haven’t gone through menopause can be at a higher risk of getting this form of cancer. Weeks before her diagnosis, Olson was having abnormal stomach pains and started hemorrhaging. A quick trip to the ER changed her life forever. “I was petrified, I had a complete meltdown, I thought I was going to die,” says Olson. Both of Olson’s parents had passed away from the disease and she wasn’t going to let it take her own.

Dr. Kevin Davis, Olson’s oncologist helped calm her fears and anxieties about the diagnosis and recommended that surgery be the immediate option to get rid of her cancer.  “I felt so comfortable and so reassured that I was going be ok,” says Olson. Davis suggested a full hysterectomy and Olson was the perfect candidate to receive her surgery robotically because her cancer was in its early stages. “Having robotic surgery is less invasive and gives the patient a quicker recovery time and better results,” explains Davis.

The procedure Olson underwent is called, da Vinci Hysterectomy.  This state-of-the-art surgery is designed to give the patient less pain, less risk of infection and minimal scarring.  The 3D technology allows a doctor to control the tiny instruments with a magnified view giving them ultimate control of movement inside the body.

Olson was amazed at the outcome of her surgery after returning to work only a week and half after surgery. “I don’t know if I would have done this well if I didn’t have this technology and hadn’t seen Dr. Davis. I feel pretty darn good,” says Olson.  After recently completing radiation her cancer is now in remission. Olson says she has a new appreciation for life and is glad she came to Swedish. “I feel very blessed. From the moment we walked in there, it was just a great experience and now my cancer is gone.”