Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Time to Heal - Woman Has Wrestled with Cancer

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Time to Heal - Woman Has Wrestled with Cancer

Article excerpt

Byline: WENDI ZONGKER

CALLAHAN - Donna Burch will join other cancer survivors this weekend to raise money to fight a disease that has plagued her life for the last five years.

Burch now dedicates her time and energy to the West Nassau Relay for Life as the event's entertainment co-chairwoman.

"If my story and my efforts through the relay can make a difference in helping to save one person's life, then God has revealed to me my purpose in life," she said.

Burch's battle with cancer began in 2003 during a routine dermatology appointment. Her doctor was concerned with a few spots on her body. And, after having some moles removed, Burch became concerned herself.

A mole on her lower back had changed colors and started to itch. Both are classic signs of melanoma. Tests were done and three days later, Burch's life changed.

She had melanoma.

"After some explanation of the disease and what measures it would take to try and remove it, the light finally went off," she said. "I have something that could potentially kill me."

Shortly after the diagnosis, she received intravenous treatments of interferon, a protein commonly used to treat hepatitis C. But what was supposed to be 20 days of treatment turned into two months.

Her liver didn't react well to the treatment, and further treatments caused a blood clot.

"Everything scared me," she said. "It was the overall fear of death. From a religious aspect, I knew I would go to heaven, but from a human point of view, it was a very scary process."

But within a few months, the clot went away and Burch felt normal again.

Burch thought she was on her way to being cancer free until 2005 when she noticed an odd bump on her left leg.

Her worst fear came true. She had cancer again.

Even after surgery to remove the bump, her battle was far from over.

Burch underwent a battery of tests that showed something wasn't right with her colon.

And following a colonoscopy, Burch faced her worst fear a third time. There was a growth on her colon.

Doctors removed and tested six inches of her colon, and Burch dodged a bullet. The growth was pre-cancerous.

Three years later, Burch still sees her doctors on a regular basis. …

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