Thursday, May 28, 2015

Cathy Wright is ‘Living by Grace’

The following in one in a series of articles that will spotlight local cancer survivors during the month leading up to the 2015 Relay for Life, which will be held Saturday, June 13 in Dixon.
J-E Reporter

Cathy Wright of Providence considers herself a normal person. 
“I’m no better than anyone else”, she said.  So when she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in March 2009, she didn’t ask “Why me?”  Rather, there was no reason she knew of that it shouldn’t be her.  She explains that in so many instances in peoples’ lives, they might cry out first to God and ask why this is happening to them.  But she never did. 

“I just never questioned why,” she stated.

Cathy was born in Muhlenberg County, but her family soon moved to Owensboro where she grew up.  She describes her life as quite normal growing up there, and even after moving to Providence in 1975, she still has friends and family there.

Her journey with cancer began in April 2009 when she was living in Virginia for a short time to help one of her daughters as she completed her college education.  She went for a regular checkup, but the doctor called her a few days later to inform her that there was something not quite right with her blood test.  It seems that her protein levels were too high.  More tests were ordered and soon Cathy had her diagnosis of multiple myeloma.  She met with an oncologist and immediately began a course of chemotherapy by pill form that lasted four months. 

Then, she was switched to what is known as an “IV push” for another four months.  According to the American Cancer Society, multiple myeloma is a cancer formed by malignant plasma cells.

Normal plasma cells are found in the bone marrow and are an important part of the immune system.  In multiple myeloma, the overgrowth of plasma cells in the bone marrow can crowd out normal blood-forming cells, leading to low blood counts. Among other serious symptoms, this can cause anemia – a shortage of red blood cells. People with anemia become pale, weak, and fatigued. Multiple myeloma can also cause the level of platelets in the blood to become low. This can lead to increased bleeding and bruising. 

Cathy explains that while there is no cure for this type of cancer, it can be managed to some extent.  She credits early detection and aggressive treatment with sending the disease into remission upon completion of the first eight months of treatment.  In April 2010 she received a stem cell transplant and for nearly five years it remained in remission.  Given the various stages of the disease, it was not unexpected that she received news in November 2014 that it was beginning to grow again.  Once more, her doctors at Vanderbilt Hospital started the chemotherapy, this time combining the pill and the I.V. plus an added steroid.  As of this past April the progression had stopped and she finds herself in another phase of remission.

When it comes to the Relay for Life, Cathy described her support of the event long before her own diagnosis.  She’s always believed in getting the word out to others.  Now, she finds the event a place of comfort;   a unique camaraderie with others facing similar circumstances, where the focus is on encouragement and remembrance.  When she describes what keeps her going she will tell you that she accepts it for what it is and how thankful she remains for each day God gives her. 

Her advice to others facing the disease? 

“Pray.  Give it to God.  He’s the One who gives me the strength and support each day.  Without that, for me, I don’t know where I’d be.”

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