Fighting Colon Cancer with the help of the Cancer Center at Effingham Health System
story by Julie Hales photos by Tonya Perry
If you are from Effingham County, or have lived here for any period of time, the name, Jane Hughes, is someone you know…or, at the very least, heard of.
Jane Hughes is somewhat of an icon in Effingham County. She has been in the mortgage business for over 35 years. She has owned her own company for 28 years, International Mortgage, which is the oldest mortgage company in our county.
To have survived that industry over the past 28 years, you must be a fighter. And, Jane Hughes is just that…a fighter. She has scrapped with the best of them. The years that real estate took a dive and our economy tanked were tough on the mortgage industry. Many companies folded under these tough times. But not Jane, she is a survivor.
Jane’s biggest fight came in June of 2017, the fight for her life. She was diagnosed with Stage 4 Colon Cancer.
Talk about life altering.
It all began when Jane just didn’t feel well. She hadn’t felt well for a while and knew there was an issue. She didn’t know what, but she knew there was definitely something wrong.
Jane made an appointment at the Guyton location of Effingham Family Medicine. She saw Nurse Practitioner, Kristie Moore. Moore knew there was a problem and immediately scheduled a CT Scan at Effingham Health System. The results were not good.
A colonoscopy was quickly scheduled. Dr. Wynn performed the procedure at Effingham Health System. Dr. Wynn came back with the bad news.
The surgery was performed within one week of diagnosis.
According to Jane, stage 4 Colon cancer is not curable, but it is treatable. Dr. Alison Spellman of Summit Cancer Care was brought in as Jane’s Oncologist. Dr. Spellman treats patients at the Cancer Care Center at Effingham Health System.
Dr. Spellman put the ‘plan of action’ into motion. Chemotherapy was the treatment. Jane began her chemo treatments about four weeks after the surgery. She had a port inserted at EHS about two weeks after surgery, then two weeks later, she began her treatments.
Jane’s treatment plan calls for 12 treatments, both oral and IV. Each IV treatment is three weeks apart, and oral is two weeks on and one week off. The IV treatments take about four hours each.
Each treatment she receives is done at the Cancer Care Center at Effingham Health System. She will receive a CT Scan at the end of her 12 treatments to see how well the chemotherapy has worked for her. Typically, cancer patients have CT’s throughout the treatment process. Jane’s body produces an enzyme which is a cancer marker, called a CEA, which enables the doctors to tell if the treatment is working. The determination is done by special blood work. And, as of now, the chemotherapy is working. Praise the Lord. (At press time, Jane had two treatments left, will be done by end of March)
“Being able to have my treatments done at home, in Effingham County has been a God send. It has been such a great relief to know I do not have to travel. The Cancer Care Center here at EHS has been a complete blessing,” says Jane.
She adds, “If I had to rate Summit Cancer Care and Effingham Health System on a scale of 1-10, I would give them both a 10+.”
Jane is quick to tell you about her experience in the Cancer Care Center. She is particularly fond of her nurse that gives her treatment, Shirley Rahn. She says, “Shirley is number one. The quality of care I receive is unbelievable, and the sincerity of everyone there is amazing.”
Up until this happened, Jane had never had a colonoscopy. She readily admits that she did not take proper care of herself, and this news came as a huge shock. “I learned such a hard lesson. I want to do my part to get the word out. I told Dr. Wynn that I will now stand in front of a group of Realtors at a sales meeting and tell them of the importance of having a colonoscopy. I am definitely now an advocate for people to have proper testing.”
Jane feels very blessed to have been given the opportunity to receive treatments and begin her healing process by the proper professionals at Effingham Health System.
Despite the illness, and the treatments, Jane has maintained to continue to work. Her work load may not be as heavy, and her hours may not be as many, but working is also therapy for her. “I encourage patients to work as much as possible. It keeps the mind busy and keeps you from worrying about whether the treatments are working,” she says.
Yes, Jane Hughes is a fighter. But, she is quick to let you know she has not walked this journey alone. Her husband of 30 years, David, has been her biggest supporter. And, her children, son Tripp and Wesley Ballard, have been a great support system as well. Jane’s only daughter, Hope Ballard, was lost in an automobile accident at the age of 17.
This lady is blessed in so many ways. Her friends and church family at Wingard Memorial Lutheran and Laurel Hill Lutheran, have also been incredible. Friends, Sue Zittrouer and Evelyn Kessler, both told her in the beginning that they were on a mission to see her from beginning to end of this journey…and they have. Sue has designated Fridays to Jane…she takes her to her treatments each time and takes care of other things for Jane on the off-chemo weeks.
This experience has been life-changing. But, Jane is receiving the proper treatments and taking care of herself. And, remember, this lady is a fighter…and a survivor. Thanks to the Cancer Care Center at Effingham Health System, Jane Hughes will be around for a long time!
Effingham Cancer Care Practice
Professionally Staffed by Summit Cancer Care Physicians
We know a cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming. Our team is here to help you with care, compassion, and courage-when you need it most.
The Cancer Care Center provides medical oncology services and chemotherapy. Extensively trained, medical oncologists will oversee care, including advanced treatment options.
For residents of Effingham and surrounding communities who are dealing with cancer, care close to home makes it easier for patients—and their families—to focus on healing. Our patients receive personalized care, save hours of time in transit, and benefit from a professional support system within our own community.
The Cancer Care Center is licensed to administer chemotherapy. We have created a comfortable place with a caring, professional team that is focused on you. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer, we welcome you to call us to arrange a tour.