Joan’s Story – “I’m not a cancer patient here—I’m a person”

Joan Lucas, of Copperopolis, was getting ready for a trip with her husband in August 2019 when she began experiencing painful bloating and swelling in her stomach. She went to the Emergency Department, where they discovered cancerous tumors in her ovaries and colon.

Her treatment began immediately, with a major surgery at a large treatment center in Southern California.

“I knew I was getting great care, but I felt like part of a science project. I needed a map just to get around,” Joan explained. “When it was time for long, extended chemo and healing, I knew I wanted to do that here in Sonora. I’m not a cancer patient here—I’m a person.”

After many rounds of chemotherapy at the Diana J. White Cancer Institute, Joan is now in full remission. But the road to recovery was, and still is, long.

“I was bed-ridden for a long time, and I couldn’t walk in the door to my appointments,” Joan said. “I was determined to walk up to the front desk when I was well enough.”

When the day came, she decided she was going to get dressed up and put on makeup. As she walked up to the front desk, the staff gasped: “Miss Joan, look at you! You look so beautiful.”

“I didn’t even feel like I had cancer in that moment,” Joan recalled. “Getting better is so much more than the medicine they put in your body. It's the interaction.”

Now, Joan comes in every few months for routine PET scans and checkups. Though she misses the visits with her nurses and doctors, she happily keeps her schedule full, running a dock business on Lake Tulloch with her husband and traveling to visit family. She is also looking forward to restarting meetings with the women in business social group she leads.

"I just don't have time for cancer!"


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