Tanya McLeod credits God, family and St. Mary Mercy Livonia for courageous fight against colorectal cancer
Listen to your body. If something feels wrong, go to the doctor. These are the words 61-year-old Inkster resident Tanya McLeod lives by.
Tanya was feeling constipated, bloated and had stomach cramps. She felt pain near her tailbone when she walked. It wasn’t until she found blood in her stool that she knew this wasn’t merely the realities of getting older. She knew her body was telling her something so she made an appointment with her primary care physician.
During her exam, Tanya’s physician felt something abnormal and referred her for a colonoscopy. She received her diagnosis on June 24, 2015 – stage two colorectal cancer.
Accompanied by her husband, two children, mother, sister, and sister-in-law, Tanya met with radiation oncologist Samir Narayan, MD and his team at St. Mary Mercy Livonia. At this first meeting, they gained an honorary family member, she said.
“That day, we gained a family friend; more like I gained a brother. The whole staff is like my extended family.”
“I was scared and feared the worst,” recalled Tanya. “All of that fear and uncertainty melted away when I met Dr. Narayan. I felt an immediate connection with him. With a smile that is so genuine it reaches his eyes, it’s hard not to feel comfortable with him.”
“That day, we gained a family friend; more like I gained a brother. The whole staff is like my extended family,” she continued.
Tanya underwent six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy treatments. It wasn’t easy. On the sixth week, she felt something was off but was so close to being done that she pushed it aside. But she couldn’t fool the radiation oncology staff.
“They knew when I came in that something wasn’t right just by how I was walking,” she said. “The office staff put me in a wheel chair and took me up to the Cancer Center. I was admitted and spent nine days in the hospital. I’m so thankful they were all so in tune with me and cared about my well-being.”
This minor setback didn’t get her down. After being released from the hospital, Tanya finished her treatments.
While in recovery, she faced a few more setbacks. Part of her colon and intestine were removed due to the side effects of the chemo and radiation. Through it all, she stayed positive and credits God, her family and the St. Mary Mercy staff for providing the help and support needed to overcome her diagnosis and become a survivor.
“As of Nov. 30, 2017, I am two years cancer free!” Tanya exclaimed. “I am so thankful I am still here. The Lord gave me a second chance at life.”
In a letter Tanya wrote to Dr. Narayan, she expressed her gratitude for him and his staff. She wrote:
“I continue to thank God for each and every one of you. I am a new creature in Christ! I am courage! I am fearless! I am a survivor! I am remarkable!”
For more information about colorectal cancer prevention and treatment programs at Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, visit stjoeshealth.org/cancercare-colon-rectal. To speak with a representative, please call 1-877-712-HOPE.