Make no mistake, Sherrie Favell is a warrior.
Eight years ago, the community booster was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer.
Surgery and six months of chemotherapy later, Favell was told she was cancer free.
But in early June, she received the devastating news that the cancer has come back in the form of three tumours – one just below her stomach, one above her spleen and another in her abdomen, as well as in lymph nodes in her neck.
Now diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, Favell is facing this new battle with courage, honesty and humour – and an urgent plea to others to listen to their bodies and go to the doctor if they feel something is amiss.
“I urge women, if they have lower abdominal pain, to ask for CA125 – it’s a simple blood test,” she says, noting ovarian cancer is often referred to as the silent killer.
Following treatment for her first bout with the disease, Favell had checkups every three months, either in Vernon or Vancouver.
When she hit the five-year mark and was declared cancer free, checkups were reduced to every six months.
Jubilation turned to concern last year when blood tests revealed an increase in her cancer markers.
After being between eight and 10, well within the normal range of zero to 34, the markers began to increase and her doctor ordered a laparoscopy.
“The cancer hadn’t come back, but my bowel had moved,” she says, noting the numbers were slowly climbing and she began suffering “vibrating pain” in her abdomen. “In November it started jumping a bit. Then a couple of months ago it hit the marker 34 and the next blood test at three weeks went way over.”
An ultrasound revealed nothing but a CT scan picked up two tumours, news that Dr. Ken Upton was distressed to deliver.
“I just love Dr. Upton. We stood there and hugged and I said, ‘don’t worry, Dr. Upton, it’s going to be all right,’” she says. “He cares for his patients as does his wife, Colleen (nurse and medical office assistant).”
Upton faxed her records to Vancouver clearly marked urgent, but when no information was forthcoming in three weeks, Favell, who had held off telling her mom she was back on the battle line so she could enjoy a trip without worry, got on the phone.
“It doesn’t matter what happens to me, but this is messing with my mom and nobody messes with my mom,” she said. “The paperwork got lost in the shuffle the first time and I said ‘not this time!’”
A PET scan was performed in early June and Favell has high praise for the treatment she received at the BC Cancer Agency in Vancouver.”
“Once you get in there, they treat you so good,” she says. “I’m not trying to knock the system; it’s just frustrating when you’re on this side of the tracks and you’re waiting.”
Last Tuesday, two days before the first round of chemo, one older drug and one newer, Favell had her hair cut, donating several inches to Wigs For Kids. “I donated because of what children have to go through,” she says. “They shouldn’t have to go through this and they cry because they don’t like how they look.”
Caring about children is nothing new. For many years Favell has raised funds for Relay for Life and run annual events in support of Variety The Children’s Charity, including auctions where she was very successful in talking people into opening their wallets.
She has also held fundraisers for friends in need of a helping hand.
Favell loves her job at McGuire Lake Lodge and says she became very depressed last time, in part she believes, because she was unable to work.
This time, she is determined to stay on the job as much as possible. But Favell is not sure how the chemo will affect her.
So, close friend Liz Anderson has created a GoFundMe account to provide Favell with a measure of financial security over the next six months.
“My new saying is, ‘it’s too bad the world wasn’t measured in friendship instead of money, because then I’d be a friggin’ billionaire,’” she says tearfully of the support that is already pouring in. “It’s good that we caught it this early and hopefully I’ll respond well and get another eight years.”
Those who wish to help Favell may go to gofundme/yevja8. Those who do not have access to the Internet may mail or drop a cheque off at Anderson’s office – Harbourfront Massage, 140 Harbourfront Dr. NE, Salmon Arm, V1E 2T3.
Favell is proud of her First Nations heritage on her dad’s side and got a large tattoo of an original design native knife on her right leg to show she had conquered cancer.
A member of Saskatchewan’s Kawacatoose Nation, she is already planning the tomahawk tattoo she will get when this next battle has been won.