With the many advances in cancer treatment, today’s cancer patients have more and more reasons for hope. Portraits of Hope are the incredible stories of our patients and their journeys of hope and survival. Click on a thumbnail and scroll down to view each story.
Born and raised in Germany, Gisela Keaton moved to the United States after marrying her husband, Ronald, 56 years ago. The couple currently resides in Little River, South Carolina, where they enjoy an active and healthy lifestyle.
“I love playing golf with Ronald, crocheting with my women’s group and video chatting with my grandkids,” said Gisela. “In Germany, I worked as a professional tailor sewing dresses featured in Paris Fashion Week.”
In June 2018, Gisela began experiencing dizziness which often led to fainting spells. Gisela’s internal medicine physician in Myrtle Beach diagnosed her with iron deficiency anemia, a condition where the body cannot produce enough red blood cells due to the lack of iron.
As she continued battling anemia, Gisela also suffered from gastrointestinal issues. Her physician recommended she undergo a colonoscopy, so Gisela made an appointment at the nearest hospital, McLeod Health Seacoast.
“I had not felt well for months,” said Gisela. “I desperately needed some answers.”
Gastroenterologist Dr. Khaled Elraie of McLeod Digestive Health Center Seacoast performed Gisela’s colonoscopy. During the procedure, Dr. Elraie detected multiple polyps and a large mass inside her cecum.
“The cecum connects the small intestine to the colon,” said Dr. Elraie. “I performed a biopsy of the cecal mass, and the results confirmed low-grade adenocarcinoma, a type of cancer that starts in mucous glands. I immediately referred Gisela to Oncologist Dr. Donny Huynh of McLeod Oncology and Hematology Associates at Seacoast, a Department of McLeod Regional Medical Center.”
“I was very shocked to learn that I had colon cancer,” recalled Gisela. “Everything seemed to be happening so fast, and my world was spinning upside down.”
Anxiously anticipating her next steps and treatment options, Gisela met with Dr. Huynh. He ordered a CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis area which showed no evidence of metastasis, or the spread of cancer cells to another location in the body.
“Luckily, the colon cancer had not metastasized,” said Dr. Huynh. “I told Gisela that she had a very good chance of a full recovery, but she needed to undergo surgery to remove the cecal mass and begin chemotherapy.”
A few days later, General Surgeon Dr. Eric Young of McLeod Loris Seacoast Surgery performed a hemicolectomy to remove a section of Gisela’s colon. The pathology results indicated a total of 19 polyps with four of them being Stage III cancer.
Two months after her surgery, Gisela began chemotherapy at McLeod Health Seacoast Infusion Services.
“The side effects from chemotherapy took a toll on my body,” said Gisela. “On a couple of occasions, I visited the Emergency Department to be examined, and even then the physicians and staff provided excellent care.”
As Gisela continued treatment, Dr. Huynh ordered another CT scan to check for any abnormalities or disease recurrence. All of the results came back clear.
“Having cancer is perhaps one of the most difficult experiences a person can go through,” said Dr. Huynh. “I feel privileged to have helped Gisela close that chapter of her life.”
Gisela finished chemotherapy on January 31, 2019 with a clean bill of health. She continues follow-up appointments every few months.
“I strongly encourage patients ages 45 and older to undergo routine colonoscopies, as this is the best procedure to screen for colon cancer,” said Dr. Elraie. “Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in men and women, but preventable when detected early.”
“I have been so pleased with all of my physicians, nurses and staff at McLeod Health,” said Gisela. “I could not believe how well my entire care team communicated with each other. It gave me great peace of mind that everyone already knew my condition. I’ve even switched my internal medicine care to Dr. David Johnson at McLeod Internal Medicine Seacoast.”
Gisela is now feeling well enough to enjoy life again and recommends McLeod Health to everyone she knows. She meets friends weekly to crochet hats and blankets for newborn babies and can often be found on the golf course swinging clubs with Ronald.