Chronic stomach pain led Saundra Willcutt to five different doctors in 2011 before she found one who gave her the diagnosis that shook her daughter, …
Chronic stomach pain led Saundra Willcutt to five different doctors in 2011 before she found one who gave her the diagnosis that shook her daughter, Wendy Odom, to the core.
When Dr. Carol Adams gently delivered the news that Willcutt had cancer, Odom’s mother was the strongest one in the room.
“She sat there just as calm and cool as anything. She never cried a tear. She said, ‘Well, what do we do now?’” Odom recalled.
Willcutt, 62, of Oakman, has been battling ovarian cancer every day for the past five years.
She was Stage 3 at the time of her initial diagnosis. Her first CA125 test, a test of a protein in the blood that is sometimes produced by ovarian cancer cells, showed a level of over 1,000. A normal level is below 35.
She underwent surgery and received several rounds of chemotherapy in Birmingham. Five times, the cancer came back shortly after her treatments ended.
During her own battle, Willcutt’s sister and mother were diagnosed with breast cancer. Both received treatment and are currently doing well.
When doctors told Willcutt that her only option left was a trial drug that was being administered to humans for the first time, she sought a second opinion at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Tulsa, Oklahoma in April 2014.
She and her husband, J.W., currently make the 10-hour drive to Oklahoma every two to three weeks.
While Willcutt’s medical expenses are covered by insurance, Odom organized a 5K last weekend at Gamble Park to offset some of the travel expenses.
Odom’s goal is to make “Run Teal There’s a Cure” an annual event that raises money for local ovarian cancer patients. (Teal is the official color of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.)
She hopes that one day Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, which ends today, will be as well-known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
“I want to see as much teal as I do pink,” Odom said.