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Cancer survivor Phyllis Elam

Cancer survivor Phyllis Elam, center, of Lonoke with her children Whitley and Rollins. (Submitted photo)
Cancer survivor Phyllis Elam, center, of Lonoke with her children Whitley and Rollins. (Submitted photo)

This is the fourth in a series of survivor articles leading up the Relay For Life Celebration in Lonoke on Friday, May 2, at the Gina Cox Center on the Lonoke High School Campus.

By Phyllis Elam

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

One of the most exciting days of my life became one of the scariest days of my life just by hearing a six letter word, “CANCER!”

May 24, 1990, a very special day in my husband’s and my lives as we were welcoming our second child into the world. Our daughter Whitley was 4 and we were having a boy so our family would be complete! The delivery of our baby was to be by Cesarean Section due to complication with the birth of our daughter. The delivery date was to be June 10, however due to several reasons the delivery date was moved up. I believe this was all a part of God’s plan to have the cancer discovered early and let the healing process begin.

Two weeks before Rollins was born he already weighed 8 pounds, the last weeks of the pregnancy the babies gain about a pound a week so Rollins was projected to weigh over ten pounds therefore the doctor suggested we move up the due date. My doctor was also scheduled to attend a medical conference on Rollins’ due date so he asked me if he could be the one to deliver my baby instead of his associate.

After talking with my husband we decide to move the due date to May 24, 1990. The delivery went as planned; welcome Rollins Dare Elam a healthy 8 pound baby boy. I was 35 years old, we had two healthy children so Ronnie and I had decided that we would have no more children. We decided that I would have a tubal ligation.

From this point things changed drastically. My doctor began the surgery and he immediately told Ronnie and me there was a problem. He told us he did not have pathology report but he knew I had ovarian Cancer. He immediately prepared me for surgery to remove the diseased ovary.

Dr. Johnson called in two gynecologist/oncologists from UAMS to study my case and determine the course of treatment. These doctors determined that I must go back into surgery for a complete hysterectomy. The idea of having another surgery was hard to face but not getting to spend time with my new baby was unbearable plus I had a 4-year-old daughter at home who did not know what was happening to her mother.

Rollins went home with my in-laws and I remained in the hospital. One week after delivery, I went back to surgery for the hysterectomy and exploratory surgery to see if the cancer had spread to other organs. I believe I was a part of a modern-day miracle as my cancer had not metastasized and I was given a 92-percent survival rate.

I will have been CANCER FREE for 24 years on May 24, 2014. In my heart, I know having Rollins saved my life. If I had not had him the cancer would have spread as ovarian cancer is a “Silent Killer” and “it is the whispering disease!” I worried about Rollins having cancer as he was in my tummy when I had the disease: however it is Whitley, my daughter, which has felt the result of me having cancer as many times ovarian is passed from mother to daughter. Children are a gift from GOD and I have been blessed with two very special gifts.

Upcoming rallies

Lonoke Relay For Life Team rallies will be held March 27, April 10 and April 24, at 6:30 p.m. at the community center.

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