How Cancer was “The Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me”

This first appeared in Front Porch, Fredericksburg, VA in December 2019.

It may sound a little perverse, but getting colon cancer was “ the best thing that ever happened to me” says Kendra Morgan.

A Cancer Story With a Twist

Kendra was working for a government contracting agency providing services to the Marine Corps and other government agencies. “I would meet with senior military and corporate leaders “ she told me when we met at Agora for me to hear her story. “We were dealing with contracts worth millions of dollars. It was very rewarding but could be very stressful at times.”

She’d had some intestinal distress symptoms since adolescence, diagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome. When she had similar symptoms in July of 2014, she thought it was just more of the same, now enhanced by her stressful job and busy life as a Mom with two active kids. “I was a type A personality and never took time to relax” she told me.

But a colonoscopy revealed a colon cancer, and she underwent surgery to remove it.

A twist in her story, that appeals to me as it shows her to be a smart, empowered, emancipated patient, was that when she went to the oncologist after surgery to discuss further treatment, she asked “what if I do nothing?”

“He was taken aback” she told me. And told her “no one ever asked me that before.”

At the time of her surgery, samples from all the local lymph nodes had been taken to look for spread, and 1 out of 22 were reported as showing cancer cells resulting in a Stage 3 diagnosis. The oncologist had been proposing a course of chemotherapy. 

After doing some research he got back to her and told her she had a 71 per cent chance of survival if she did nothing. 

“That was pretty darn good” Kendra told him. “I’ll take it.”

The oncologist wasn’t so happy and asked to have her case reviewed by the Tumor Board - a board of seasoned oncologists who put their heads together to figure out a strategy for difficult cases.

A consequence of this was that the histology slides were reviewed, and when looked at again, it was found there had been a mix up in the case numbers. There were no cancer cells in any of her lymph nodes.

Her oncologist told her “it’s divine intervention.”

Relying on More Than Divinity

The real point of the story, and why Kendra says it’s the best thing that happened to her is that it prompted her to make a total change in her life.

She quit her job – which phased her husband a bit “as I was making good money.” She did lots of reading about being well – “over a hundred books” she says. She adopted a clean vegetarian diet; started to exercise every day again; meditate; and practice Reiki.

She went to see Dr. Yvonne Villarreal who helped her with her elevated cholesterol as well as her GI problems and building up her immunity. She lost 25 lb - which she says worried family, but it took her back to her ‘normal’ weight back in High School. 

She has joined the Fredericksburg Food Coop – which is where I met her and is growing her own herbs. 

She says “it took a hit on the head to change” but that’s what her colon cancer was. Now she’s looking for a “second chapter” to her life but feels “I can do whatever I need to heal myself.” 

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