When Rod Echols found blood in his stool and was diagnosed with hemorrhoids, he thought about the history of colon cancer in his family. But more than that, he thought about his wife, Keisha, and their two young children. He was 38 when a colonoscopy found a cancerous polyp. During the surgery to remove the polyp, the doctors discovered that the cancer when deeper than they expected–it had spread to Rod’s lymph nodes. Maintaining the positivity that would stay with him while he dealt with his diagnosis, Rod and his wife headed to Chicago to set up a course of treatment.
Rod’s post-surgery treatment consisted of radiation and chemotherapy, xeloda at first, and later a combination of xeloda and oxaliplatin. This regimen left him run down and fatigued, but the constant support of his family and physicians help him push through this side effect. The worst was that he could not enjoy his favorite treat–gelato–as sensitivity to the cold was another side effect of his treatment. But yet again, the support of his physicians and family helped him through: They joined Rod in eating a different diet to help him remain happy and optimistic.
For Rod, knowledge was power and power was hope. He spoke with his surgeon and radiation oncologist every chance he could, and through every arduous step of treatment, his family was there giving him something to fight for. His doctors were just as supportive, offering him after-hours advice, answering his questions and giving him an accurate road map from treatment to recovery. Most importantly, Rod says, Keisha stepped in and provided physical and metal support and boundless positivity. She helped him stay focused, and during his return to work, no one had and any idea he was fighting cancer–even during his chemotherapy and radiation. When Rod decided to tell his coworkers, they were there to support him, too, and they were inspired by his perseverance.
Keisha has been by Rod’s side every step of the way–as a caregiver, a source of joy and a beacon of hope. Her role in Rod’s life has been vital, but it has been stressful at times too. According to her husband, Keisha found strength and support from doctors and their children. Together, they helped prepare Rod’s meals, got him to his doctor’s appointments and brought light to him every day while strengthening their own bonds together.