A CBS 42 News Special: Local War on Cancer: Your Stories

What is the Local War on Cancer?

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) -- May is National Cancer Research Month, and CBS 42 is airing a special report May 18th called "Local War on Cancer."

We'll explore ground-breaking research going on right here in Birmingham, and take a look at how Alabama has played a role in the global battle against cancer.

Leading up to our special report, we've been asking viewers to share their stories with us at reportit@wiat.com and with Sherri Jackson on Facebook.

We want to hear from you--whether you are in treatment right now, or supporting a loved one who has experienced cancer, or even if you have participated in fundraisers to help make a difference.

For more information on Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green's research mentioned in tonight's special, visit weareoralee.org.

Here are the stories we've collected in the CBS 42 Local War on Cancer:

Denise Wheeler-Mayo

I wanted to share my story. Two years ago, I woke up and couldn't walk, stand, sit up, anything without immense pain. I was diagnosed with a tumor on my spinal cord and needed emergency back surgery. I got back from that Dr visit and got a call from my OB/GYN. They had seen something on my mammogram and I needed to come back in immediately. I had back surgery the next day. Then another call from my OB/GYN, this time for a biopsy. I was diagnosed stage one breast cancer. I had a partial mastectomy. I underwent radiation and take a chemotherapy pill every night and will for the next 8 years. I now suffer from failed back surgery syndrome from the removal of the fatty tumor on my spinal cord. I had 4 surgeries in a little over 2 months. I then had to have my ovaries removed and a seroma removed. I'm alive! I'm healthy! I'm cancer free!

God has been my strength! My daughter and loved ones all helped me fight!
There was no history of breast cancer in my family and I have four older sisters.
I also had no lump or change in my breast. It was ONLY found because I had a mammogram!! I'm enjoying your special! Thank you for sharing!!

Daryll King

Just saw your story on cancer. I would like to share what it's like to actually go threw the battle. I worked 60 hrs on average to provide for my daughter,grandkids (2),And my wife who had open heart surgery 9 yrs ago. In August of last year I thought I had a sinus infection,went the dr and he said he thought it was something more. Boy was he right. 2 weeks later I had a radical neck dicectomy. Got sent home only to be called and told they did biopyes and found I needed to come back for more surgery to remove my tonsil and a tumor. Then then real fun begins, radiation and chemo. Not to mention my job loss and having to apply for disability. I do thank you for looking at the cancer situation, sometimes a we as a society seem to just blink our eyes at certain things we see and hear about. If I can be of help in any way with the fight against cancer please let me know. It's a battle I'm fighting daily squamous cell of the tonsil. I've got the pics,thanks to family lol. Thanks Again for all you do, champions win,God Bless,Daryll King

(Second letter from Daryll King)

If there's anything I can do to help fight the fight just let me know. I will do anything needed.The daily battle against this ugly non forgiving disease is constant. I can surely provide all the behind the scene details. Good and bad. But Again Thank You,  for all you do not just for cancer but all you do for our community, it doesn't go unnoticed, God Bless,Daryll

Tyrone Green

Far as I can remember around the age of 9 or 10 my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Luckily she was in the Army, so she was able to get treated right away. The doctors gave her 6 months to live. With my mother only standing 5 ft tall & less than 130 lbs, I can honestly say she had the heart & determination of a lion.

For the next few years, my mother went through numerous of chemo & radiation treatment & even surgery. Seeing the pain that she was going through was not a good thing for any child at any age should see their parents go through. Especially knowing there's nothing you can do, but to leave it in God's hands.

One thing I always told my mother that you're not going anywhere till I graduate. Her response would be that she will be here to see me graduate. Now a few years has gone by & everything is going well. Now I'm a senior in high school & the complications have started back. This time its fluid keeps building up in her lungs. Here I am again telling my mom "you're not going anywhere till I graduate, this my last year". 4 months before I graduate she goes in the hospital. 2 weeks later on Jan. 18, 1999 around 2 am the phone rings & it's her doctor asking to speak to my dad, I told him he just went to work a few hours ago. So the doctor asking me who was I & how old I am. Told him I'm her son & I'm only 17. Now I'm scared & freaking out asking him what's wrong with my mom. He tells me he needs to talk to an adult. So I gave him my brother's number. 10 minutes later my brother shows up. Our mother is gone!

Cancer has stripped us from having a mother! Cancer has taken away from my kids & my nieces & nephews from knowing & receiving love from their grandmother. Now she watching down on us & guiding us!
Mom! We love & miss you so much! Most of all to my high school classmate, my friend Thank You so much for pulling me to the side & talking to me. Honestly, mentally I don't know what state of mind I would be in right now if it wasn't for you!

My thoughts on the War On Cancer. What war on Cancer? All I'm seeing is Cancer research this & Cancer Center being built. Yes, that's good. After all these years of raising & spending money on Cancer, you're telling me there's no cure! I find that hard to believe! America is too smart not to have come up with a cure for Cancer or any disease that's not curable! Let's say there is a cure, what that would do for the medical field & the doctor's 7 insurance companies money? A lot of money will be lost & not made if there was a cure for Cancer! Where's The Cure For Cancer?

I want to thank my classmate. I would also like to thank two other of my best friends mom for stepping up & showing me love that a son would need from a mother.
Sherri, Thank you so much. For giving me the opportunity. This wasn't easy.

Frances Taylor

This is about what God can do!  What He has done for me is living proof.

In 2014 I was diagnosed  with Breast cancer almost Stage 3.  I had a doubleMastectomy. I had 6 chemoTreatments.  26 shots in all. 4 iron infusions. My chemo Drugs were taxotere and cytoxan. 1 Zofran for nausea. Finally done  September 2015, 2016  diagnosed  with colon cancer.  It took 2 feet of my colon and had a 6cm tumor which was why I was losing Iron.    I did not have  any after treatments.  I keep  my checkups with my doctors.  This is all about God and I thank Him for every day He allows me.

Teresa Edgil

This is what cancer does. It robs you of your life. This is what cancer CANNOT do: rob you of your belief, character, integrity, kindness, thoughtfulness, generosity, intellect and love. Because all of this is passed on to the generations that follow. I am Teresa Edgil and 19 months ago I lost my husband, Earl Edgil to cancer of the kidneys that had spread to his adrenal glands, destroyed the A1 vertebrae of his spine, was in the IVC 2 inches from his heart and spread to his liver. But, this man-my husband, father to my sons and grandfather to 6 little boys and girls had already spent decades spreading love to us all. He no longer lives. But, the love he gave us will live as long as we do. He is, to this very day, a much loved man. Cancer can't win when it comes against a man like my man.

Susan Roberts McWilliams

] As part of National Cancer Research Month we're looking at cancer research, treatment and the people affected by cancer..and sharing their stories.
Here is some of what Susan Roberts McwWlliams said in her letter.  Her husband died of ocular Melanoma, and she has stayed in touch with the OM community.

She writes in part, "Mark, with the support of his family, fought this rare cancer very hard...I also think of it often during this climate when there is so much talk of cutting funds for medical research and cutting back on healthcare. Rare diseases don’t get nearly as much attention and funding for research. Of course, a disease can seem very rare until your spouse or child turns out to have it!”

Angeline Berry

My name is Angeline Berry and this is my story...

I'm a mother of 3, a wife, and once a hard working professional woman...until my life changed on Thanksgiving 2016. While cooking a Thanksgiving meal, I began having trouble breathing and passed out in my kitchen. My daughter called 911 and I was rushed to the hospital here in Birmingham where I found out I had a mass on my Left lung, adjacent to my heart. I didn't take the news well, and I cried and cried...my gut told me it was Cancer even though I've never been a smoker. I started seeing a pulmonary doctor, and was referred out for a biopsy which failed and I got a pneumothorax... after suffering through the holidays, both Christmas and New years, I eventually saw a lung surgeon who after reviewing my PET SCAN  told me he saw other places that were of concern and removing them and diagnosing me would be the next step. Well, I ended having a medial sternotomy, nothing short of open heart surgery on Jan 9 2017. I then learned I had Stage 2 Classic Hodgkins Lymphoma. The recovery was brutal!! After a long hospital stay,  I left on a walker and tried to focus on healing so I could began chemotherapy. I'm 4 sessions in and awaiting another scan to see how many more sessions are needed, then comes

radiation therapy.

My entire life changed in just one moment it seems, and I'm still learning to deal with this battle day by day. I'm thankful for my family and my husband who has taken care of me since the beginning even when I couldnt do the simplest things to just survive! He's taken on 3 jobs to hold it all together, and now I've recently learned my employer is taking steps to replace me. I try to see the good in every trial, knowing that God has a bigger plan for me. My faith is rooted in that, and I know I will beat this!!!

A determined woman,

A. Berry

David Flanary

My name is David Flanary, 64 years of age, go to the gym three times a week, eat healthy for the last two years, married of 37 years with three children and four grandsons, retired from working management in the coal mines. this past September, I started having system's I've never experience before, light headed, short winded, and sound waves started making different pitches of sound, then in October woke up in the middle of the night very short winded, so I get up and walk to my recliner in the living room, thinking I could breathe better setting up? That didn't work, so then I decided to back to the bed room and wake up the wife, as I was walking down the hall way, my knees collapsed, I was quick enough to lean against the wall and slide down the wall, made it to the bed room, flipped on the lights and told my wife there is something bad wrong with me, I then collapsed on the bed, she jumped out of bed and called 911. The paramedics arrived checked all my vitals, and everything checked good, the chief looked at me and told my wife I was pale as a ghost, he said we need to take him to the hospital or you can take him.

When I got to the emergency room @ St. Vincents they ran all the test on me then admitted me into the hospital, the staff there started running test immediately that morning, the last test that was run on me as a biopsy of the my bone marrow, the second day the Oncologist with his team of doctors came inside my room, I knew this was not going to be good. after the introduction of all the doctors, I told all of them, please tell me straight up what is wrong with me. The Oncologist told me that when I came to the hospital I was 7 pints low on blood, and my health speaks volumes on my part, he said if this had been any one else they would be under the bed and not laying on top of the bed. then he broke the news to me that I had Mylofibrosia, if not treated within five years I would die. then he explained that my bone marrow was not making enough white and red blood cells. so they began giving me two pints of blood and one pint of fluids and released me the next day.

So every two weeks I have my blood check at the Bruno's Cancer Center, I receive two pint of blood every 4-6 weeks when my blood levels drop. in the mean time my Oncologist has recommend me to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. been there once early in the year, passed all their test for a bone marrow transplant, then after we learned that Medicare does not cover this and after we found out the cost, told the wife we needed a plan "B", so we went and talked to the Leukemia doctor about getting me started in clinical trails to help prolong my life, after we talked to the doctor, it was several weeks later and after I wrote my Congresswoman three letters explaining my situation, then several weeks later Medicare approves the bone marrow transplant, and so has my health provider.

Three weeks ago I was back at MD Anderson for another bone marrow biopsy, and the told me that they have several hundred good matches for me, but they will narrow it down from my genetics on the last biopsy, now I have been in a holding pattern, waiting for MD Anderson to call me back with good news. When all of this is approved and the donor is found, then we will have to move down to Houston for four months, have to be within a thirty minute drive of the Cancer center, we are on several waiting list of homes, and apartments. and will have to find a care giver to help my wife, so lots of decisions to be made, trying to plan ahead of time.

P.S as we walk through this journey of uncertainly, we are not a lone!! Jesus is and always will be beside us, he gives me strength and guidance every day, I count my blessing every day for each and every one of you that is praying for me, this means the world to me!! I will stay strong in my faith and my health, all things are possible through Christ!!

Ashley Ryan

Mother of 4 diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma stage 4 in January 2016 & again in April 2017.

My name is Ashley Ryan,I am a proud wife & mother of 4. In November of 2015,Thanksgiving evening I felt extremely tired & tense around my neck,we noticed one side of my neck/collar bone area was really swollen. I had just finished taking antibiotics for an abcess tooth so I was instantly confused as to why the lymph node had enlarged at this time. I had a 2 month old baby at the time so I actually had many symtoms that could have easliy been over looked as just hormonal stuff such as weight loss,fatigue,night sweats but I also had rashes on my legs for years that the doctor described as eczema,the rash had broke out on my back though by this point. I seen my family doctor the following week & after he seen/felt the lymph node & told him everything else that had been going on,he told me it looked like a possible case of Classic Hodgkins Lymphoma & that he was scheduling an ultrasound of the enlarged node the next day. Results came back & they scheduled a biopsy. My biopsy was right before Christmas so it seemed like forever waiting to get the call. In early January 2016 I was told the results that it was indeed HL. After having a PET scan & meeting with my oncologist, we were told I had Classic Hodgkins lymphoma stage 4 cancer. I was speechless,my vision started getting blurry from the tears I was trying to hold back as the Doctor explained that my cancer was in my chest,breast,lungs,spleen & liver.We will never forget the silent walk back to our vehicle, my husband & just looked at each other as we sat in the parking lot,tears pouring down,we just held each other & cried, I don't even know how long we sat there but we just fell apart thinking how are we going to explain this to the kids. Luckily treatments went well with just a few bumps,half way through my scans were all clear. I finished my last treatment in July 2016 & all follow up scans have been clear until early April 2017. The Hodgkins lymphoma has come back. I have been told so far at this point I will be doing a bone marrow biopsy/transplant & more chemo. My husband works so hard to provide for our family and financially there's not many options for me to help with the burden of all the bills,I'm asking for prayers for God's healing and if you feel led to help us in ANY way it would be greatly appreciated. My immune system will be too compromised to even get out in public so an outside job will be immpossible for quite a while. But we WILL get through this again🙏❤
❤Ashley & Keaton Ryan

Update from Ashley:

"Hey thank you for sharing out story. Just want to update you and make sure you seen that the you tube link for the video has my name as Ashley Bryan but it's "Ryan". I also wanted to make sure you know it was stage 4 before then I was in remission,right now they haven't said if it's stage 1 or 2 but it took me 2 weeks just to get them to finally get my biopsy scheduled at Grandview medical center. They want to be sure it's the Hodgkins. With Hodgkins Lymphoma & Non Hodgkins the treatments can be very different for every patient. Some spread more aggressively,some are easier to treat than others."

Monica Chandler


I am an ultra rare cancer survivor and I am interested in sharing thoughts for your story. I was diagnosed in 2014 with an orphan cancer called Adrenocortical Carcinoma (aka adrenal cancer). This cancer affects 1-2 per million per year and has extremely limited treatment options. It carries an 80% recurrence rate and has grim survival rates beyond Stage 2, especially since it's treatment protocol often causes toxicity. I would love for this cancer to get more attention, so maybe people could know the things to watch for and just how much these patients suffer during treatment! What can I do? Please let me know. Thanks so much!

Monica Chandler
Centre, AL

On the CBS 42 News at 10 we mentioned this link National Institutes of Health information on orphan cancers.

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