In Dec. 3 IssueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal ReporterEditor's Note: This is the fourth in an American Cancer Society series, "Faces of Cancer." This week's piece focuses on a married couple who both have survived the disease.
Larry and Nancy Foster have been married for 43 years, but the last three have helped the couple bond in ways that even decades of marriage couldn't.
Both Larry and Nancy, who live in the Sano community, are cancer survivors and have battled hard to get back to the point where they're at today.
"Me and him both turned it over to the Lord," Nancy said.
Larry was diagnosed in July 2006 with colon cancer and Nancy was diagnosed in March of this year with breast cancer. Having the love for each other that it takes to get through trying times, the two were there for each other, taking care of each other every step of the way.
"We just want to thank our church family at New Victory Baptist Church for being there for us and praying for us," Nancy said. They also wished to thank their son, Larry Jr. and his wife, Nancy, as well as their grandchildren, Britany and Trevor Foster, for helping them through the tough times.
With Larry's situation first, he and Nancy made trips to Lexington for a series of radiation and chemotherapy, 27 treatments of each before they could perform surgery on the tumor.
When surgery finally took place, doctors removed 15 inches of his colon. Just two days after that surgery, Larry also had a massive heart attack. More surgery followed, this time at Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital in Somerset.
Following a post heart attack PET scan, Larry learned that his cancer had spread to two spots on his liver, which meant more surgery, this time by laser, in Lexington. The cancerous spots removed later returned, prompting doctors to remove 60 percent of Larry's liver.
But Larry's problems still weren't over. A bile duct then stopped up in his liver, which nearly caused him to die and prompted another surgery early this year.
After that problem was corrected, another PET scan showed that Larry's cancer had not returned and that is where he stands today.
"Right now, I'm getting along real well," he said. He now has one doctor's appointment a month.
Nancy's situation has happened within the past year as she began feeling ill in November of last year.
After doctors took 14 inches of her small intestine and her gallbladder out, she thought that would alleviate her problem but she wasn't out of the woods yet.
The cancer showed up in a scan before her surgery. Blood tests confirmed the cancer and earlier this year Nancy was diagnosed with breast cancer.
She underwent six rounds of chemotherapy over a six-month period and things are finally looking up.
"All my tests have come back good," she said. "The good Lord has done it and we have really been blessed."
"I took care of him while he was sick and he took care of me when I was sick," she said.
The Fosters praised both their family physician, Dr. John Kilgallin, and their doctor at the Commonwealth Cancer Center, Dr. Emmanuel Nidhiry, for the work they have done with them both.
Both agreed the staff at both offices couldn't be nicer and made them feel comfortable and at ease.
"They have been so good to us," she said. "They're super people," Larry said.
After numerous, expensive trips to Lexington, the Fosters said they were elated to have a facility so close to their home to go to for treatment. Nancy still sees Dr. Nidhiry once a week, as of now.
"There are so many good things that have come out of this," she said, even mentioning Larry accepting Christ as his savior through the ordeal. "It is so good not to have to go so far from home. It is a blessing."
The couple agreed that when diagnosed with the disease, not to dwell on it because that can just bring you down.
"It would drive you crazy if you'd let it," he said. "I have no control over it so why worry about it."
So, as of now, the couple is cancer-free for the first time since 2006 but knows there are no guarantees.
"We're all going to die one day," Larry said. But thanks to their family, church, doctors and faith in God, the couple will continue on with no regrets about how they've lived their lives or the cancer that has tried to hold them back.