Community Health Network

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Community Howard Regional Health Foundation

You saved my life

Paula McKinney thought she was invincible - until she was diagnosed with stage III metastasized colon cancer.

Immediately, questions flooded her mind. What would happen to me? What would happen to my kids if I died? Would I die like my mother and two brothers did from colon cancer?

"There were so many questions going through my mind, but I just sat there not talking, just thinking," she said. Three days later, a surgeon removed 12 inches of McKinney's colon. Then came chemotherapy.

Side effects of the chemo, neuropathy (a constant tingling of your nerves in the hands and feet) and not being able to withstand cold left her unable to work; she was employed at a meat-processing plant where the temperature hovered around 32 degrees.

Faced with a non-caring doctor in another city, McKinney turned to Howard Regional and medical oncologist Dr. John Salter.

"I can't tell you the difference in how I was treated. Jennifer (my nurse practitioner) gave me a book on cancer, and we sat and talked about what cancer was and how it affects your body. I saw Dr. Salter, and he explained the treatment he would recommend - if I agreed. Dr. Salter made me feel like I had a say in my treatments and how my treatments would progress."

Because of the chemo, McKinney's potassium, magnesium, calcium, and blood counts were low. Because of being unemployed, she couldn't afford the supplements. When the oncology case manager found out, she made sure McKinney received the supplements and medicine she needed - thanks to money from the Foundation.

"I can't tell you how hard it was for me to tell Jennifer that I didn't have the money to purchase the drugs I needed to survive this cancer. I have raised three kids on my own. Their dad died when they were young, so it was up to me to put them through college and make sure they could survive in this world. I worked three jobs to put them through college and didn't have help of any kind, so pride was an issue for me."

McKinney wants all Foundation donors to know, "Your donations were a lifesaver for me. Without the prescriptions, I would have ended up in the hospital again or could have died."

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  • Top 10 Indiana Cardiology Hospitals
  • Accredited Chest Pain Center with PCI
  • HealthGrades 2013 Patient Safety Excellence Award

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