Against All Odds: How Alisha Faces Her Fight with Cancer
“How do you thank someone for saving your life? There’s so much I would love to do for my doctors to show my appreciation, but there’s nothing that could amount to how much they’ve helped me,” says Alisha Taylor, 39-year old endometrial cancer patient whose life was turned upside down with her diagnosis in late 2018.
But all the challenges of her cancer treatment – which included a hysterectomy, genetic testing, chemotherapy and radiation – were made that much easier when gynecologic oncologist Dr. Robin Wilson-Smith, radiation oncologist Dr. Tamara LaCouture, and their team members partnered with Pennsylvania-based non-profit For Pete’s Sake Cancer Respite Foundation, to surprise her (and her children) with an all-inclusive vacation to Disney World! For Pete’s Sake works with oncology professionals at more than 100 hospitals and cancer centers to provide transformative respite experiences to cancer patients (ages 24-55), their caregivers, and their children.
“Christmas is my favorite time of year to be in Disney! I was just so amazed that they were able to do this for me and my kids,” said Alisha. “I couldn’t have been in better hands. If it wasn’t for them, I don’t know where I’d be.”
It was the fall of 2018 when Alisha experienced what she thought were unusual menstrual symptoms. One day, however, they became so severe that she passed out. She saw a gynecologist as soon as she could. Just two days after Christmas of that year, she learned she had endometrial cancer.
“For about a day or two, it was difficult to do anything,” said Alisha. “My dad passed away from pancreatic cancer, and he’s all I could think about. I couldn’t shake that worst-case scenario.”
At the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center – Washington Township, Alisha says she received top-notch care initially from Dr. Wilson-Smith, Tracey Reynolds, RN, and their support staff. A followup MRI determined that Alisha’s cancer had spread to several lymph nodes, a secondary diagnosis that was especially hard to bear as she worked through many recent personal hardships, including a divorce, being laid off from her job, and losing her home.
“Dr. Wilson-Smith and Tracey went the extra mile during my treatment. After my surgery, they found that I was positive for Lynch Syndrome,” said Alisha. “Not all doctors would’ve taken the precautionary steps to test for this. I’m glad they did, so I can have my kids tested too.”
“However, at the time, I wasn’t sure how much more I could handle,” Alisha said. “But I wasn’t ready to give up. I thought of my kids and how much they needed me, and that alone gave me the strength I needed.”
After a tough course of chemo, she moved onto radiation for several months. When the 2019 holidays rolled around, she wanted nothing more than a break from it all. And Dr. Wilson Smith and Dr. LaCouture made sure she got that break – at the happiest place on earth: Disney World.
Now, Alisha is finishing up her last few sessions of radiation. She has her good days and her bad days, but she handles them in stride.
Alisha’s gratitude is unending and she says she’d offer simple advice to other cancer patients: “It’s okay to let yourself be upset. It’s okay to feel everything that you want to feel. But when you’re having a good day, go out and do something exciting! You have to be good to yourself. If not, what are you fighting for?”