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Patient Rings Bell Gifted from Novant Health Thomasville Medical Center Foundation

Laura Brawley recently rang the bell at Novant Health Oncology Specialists in Thomasville symbolizing her final treatment for colon cancer. Her journey began in 2018 when she presented to the emergency room thinking she was having a flare up from her Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that affects the lining of the digestive tract.   A colonoscopy later revealed a lemon size tumor. She was scheduled for surgery that same day to remove the tumor. Because the cancer had already spread to her lymph nodes, Laura’s treatment plan included chemotherapy treatments.   


Laura and her husband of seventeen years, Richard, live in the Silver Valley community. They have two daughters.  “I am looking forward to gaining my strength back to spend more time with my grandson, Mason, who will be 8 years old next month,” shared Laura. Laura is the first person in her immediate family to experience cancer.  She is the oldest of five girls, which includes two sets of twin sisters.  Laura says that the entire experience has brought the family closer together.


Laura is an active member of Community Baptist Church and remains overwhelmed by the tremendous amount of support her church family has provided.  “I sadly saw some patients who came in for treatments all alone,” Laura added.   “Cancer certainly doesn’t discriminate,” she continued, “I saw young people in treatment.” 


Laura cannot say enough about her physician, Dr. Paschold, or his nurses. She says they all went out of their way care for her.   “The treatments really left me with so little energy,” Laura shared.  “One day, the good Lord spoke to me and said he had been with me every step of the way and told me to keep going,” she added.  “I realized I needed to get moving, stop feeling sorry for myself and feel better.”  Laura praises God for guiding her every step of her journey and simply reflecting brings her to tears.  


Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States. The American Cancer Society’s estimates for the number of new colorectal cancer cases in the United States for 2019 is 101,420. Overall, the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is statistically 1 in 22 (4.49%) for men and 1 in 24 (4.15%) for women. 


For people of average risk for colorectal cancer, the American Cancer Society recommends starting regular screening at age 45. This can be done either with a sensitivity test that looks for signs of cancer in a person’s stool (a stool-based test), or with an exam that looks at the colon and rectum (a visual exam). Each individual should speak with their health care provider about which tests might be the best option. Most insurances cover the screening. No matter which screening tool is selected, it is most important to get screened.


Rick Parker, executive director of the Novant Health Thomasville Medical Center Foundation, explained that “Oncology Specialists reached out to the foundation last fall requesting we purchase a bell for patients to ring at the end of their treatments.  Such a ceremony is widespread in cancer clinics across the United States,” adds Parker.  “The foundation was honored to provide this gift to help patients celebrate reaching such a milestone and begin their new journey cancer-free. It was an emotional moment for all watching Mrs. Brawley ring the bell, knowing she is the first of many patients that will utilize the bell to celebrate such a milestone.”


 

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