Virginia Commonwealth University

VCU Massey Cancer Center

Cancer puts life in perspective

Cancer puts life in perspective. Daily inconveniences become insignificant in comparison to the things that truly matter. For Alexis, it's having the chance to experience life as a normal teenager. For David, it's strengthening the bond with his family. For Mercedes, it's continuing to be the same mom to her children. 

Donna Sarver

Patient Donna Sarver and Dr. Sherman Baker

Donna Sarver never smoked, yet still developed a rare form of stage IV lung cancer. Barely able to breathe, she came to VCU Massey Cancer Center where doctors discovered it had spread to other locations including her spine and liver. In a remarkable case of precision medicine, they performed a cutting-edge genetic test that mapped her cancer’s DNA and helped them determine the most effective drug with which to fight it. That was three years ago. And now, after several successful treatments, Donna is breathing freely again – and giving a huge sigh of relief. 

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With care from Massey Cancer Center, Alexis is able to experience life as a normal teenager.

"There is not a single aspect of who I am that has not been affected by my diagnosis. I was a happy 17-year-old girl who lost all my hair and, basically, my identity and had my life pulled right from under me. It forced a severe perspective change. It was difficult to say the least, but all I could focus on was getting better and doing what my medical team said to get me healthy…to live."

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To David daily inconveniences become insignificant in comparison to strengthening the bond with his David.

"My cancer journey began in the fall of 2003 when my voice became hoarse.  After a week on medication for laryngitis, my patient care provider referred me to an outside specialist.  They diagnosed me with larynx cancer and suggested I see Andrew Heller, M.D., at VCU Medical Center.  He started me on radiation immediately."

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