From despair to "no evidence of disease"

Dr. Sullivan with patient Charlandria Kidd
“I trusted Dr. Sullivan from the day I met him,” says patient Charlandria Kidd. “I could tell he wanted me to live.”

 

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Charlandria Kidd’s doctor dismissed the blood on her bathroom tissue as hemorrhoids.

Busy caring for a sister with ovarian cancer, “Char” couldn’t think about such an inconsequential problem, even as the blood loss and pain increased. A year later, after the passing of her sister, she insisted on a medical test. The diagnosis was devastating: stage III colorectal cancer.

Determined to live, determined that her mother wouldn’t lose another daughter so soon, Kidd wanted the best care possible. But she had given up her job to care for her sister. At the time of diagnosis she had no insurance. Medicaid turned her down. Then she was led to Emory and surgeon Patrick Sullivan.

“I trusted Dr. Sullivan from the day I met him,” she says. “I could tell he wanted me to live.” She told him she didn’t have insurance. He didn’t seem concerned. Nor did medical oncologist Bassel El-Rayes or radiation oncologist Jerome Landry or the pathologists and other clinicians involved in her specially tailored treatment plan. Six weeks of chemotherapy and radiation shrank the large mass before surgery, making possible a minimally invasive approach to remove her cancer.

Oncology social worker Maggie Hughes advocated for much of Kidd’s treatment at Winship to be declared charity care. She helped her apply for further assistance with medical costs from Georgia Cancer State Aid and for help with living costs from Meredith’s Miracle Foundation. And it wasn’t all about money. Hughes became the person “who was always there for me,” the person whom Kidd could call to talk, the person who listened.

Sullivan also listened. Kidd struggled with the idea of the invasive surgery. Having had family members with the same type of cancer helped Sullivan talk with her about why it was so important and how she would cope. Her large family was extremely supportive, as were Winship’s experienced nurses.

Now, past her surgery, Kidd has what physicians call NED: no evidence of disease. She attends Winship’s survivorship clinic and will be followed for at least five years by a Winship multidisciplinary cancer surveillance program specific to her disease, one of the things that makes places like Emory unique, says Sullivan.

And Kidd? She hopes to educate, encourage, and empower other people affected by cancer.

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Community Benefits Report Cover 2014