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It was a regular Monday morning in January 2009 when Verna Edd learned she had breast cancer. “It rattled me,” she admitted.
She began a whirlwind of doctor visits and chemotherapy. After two weeks, the treatments seemed to be working. Everything was going smoothly until the tumor inexplicably reversed its regression and began to grow.
Edd stopped receiving chemo in order to strengthen her body for a mastectomy. The surgery was a success, and the cancer was removed. She returned to her work at Clyde Erwin Elementary School in Jacksonville and restarted chemo treatments, but then she developed lymphedema, a buildup of fluid that can follow the removal of breast tissue and lymph nodes. She learned how to manage the condition, and life went somewhat back to normal.
Not for long, however. In October 2010, Edd suffered a minor stroke. There were no lasting effects, but CAT scans performed in response to the stroke detected lesions on her brain.
“God was on my side, for sure,” she said. “The stroke was his way of revealing a much larger problem that would have otherwise been undetected.”
After being treated for the brain lesions, Edd had to undergo surgery again, in April 2011, to remove a cancerous adrenal gland. The following year, she received an even more heartbreaking diagnosis: brain cancer.
“I said, ‘No, no, no, this is my year.’ I once again geared up for the fight, calling all my prayer partners and asking them to be there with me.”
Edd was able to receive 15 rounds of radiation treatment right in Jacksonville, at Onslow Radiation Oncology, which she said was a real blessing.
“Dr. Awomolo, Dr. Blackburn and staff have been marvelous,” she said. “I couldn’t have asked for better care.” She was pleased with how they got to know her on a personal level, and how she has become “best friends” with some of the staff.
“They work very hard to make sure I am well. They’re right there when I have questions … I think of my doctors as God’s Best! They were sent by God to take care of me!”
More targeted chemotherapy followed in 2013, when Edd was diagnosed with liver cancer. But at last, a scan in August showed that she was finally cancer-free.
No matter what the future holds for her, Edd is grateful that she’ll be able to turn to the staff of ORO. “They are like family,” she said. “I can call them on the phone, and they know me and know my situation. They are professional in every way.”
She has this advice for those facing cancer treatments: “Have peace in the midst of the storm. Never give up, no matter what it looks like! Live while you’re living! Life is good.
“It has been a tough journey since I was first diagnosed five years ago, but my faith in God has helped me maintain peace,” Edd remarked. “I pray that my journey encourages people to never give up.”