So far, the articles in this week’s cancer awareness section have focused on individuals in the Elsberry area who are currently struggling with cancer, or who have recently beaten it.
There are, however, those who have been celebrating their victories over cancer for a number of years now, and they also have stories to share.
One of those individuals is Gil Dameron, who has enjoyed a cancer-free life for approximately nineteen years now.
In 2000, Dameron experienced various symptoms that he was wise enough to be concerned about and to find answers for.
After some testing had been performed, Dameron was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer.
A colonoscopy identified a large tumor, and a biopsy confirmed that it was malignant.
The first recommendation that Dameron received from medical personnel was that he should undergo a permanent colostomy.
Dameron was determined to avoid that if at all possible, so he pursued a second and then a third opinion.
Finally, he found a doctor who recommended a temporary colostomy followed by a reversal at a later stage.
Dameron’s treatment, which he received at St. John’s Mercy in St. Louis [now Mercy Hospital St. Louis], began with thirty-five days of radiation, followed by chemotherapy, then surgery, and finally eleven more months of chemotherapy.
“After ten years of remission, I was considered cured,” said Dameron.
Dameron’s cancer was actually gone immediately after his surgery, but the additional eleven months of chemotherapy were necessary just to be on the safe side.
Dameron said he was fortunate during his battle with cancer, in that he was blessed with a solid support system.
“It would take too long to mention everyone,” said Dameron. “I had my family, my church, my friends, my co-workers, and health care professionals. I could go on and on.”
Dameron said that surviving cancer and remaining cancer-free for so long has given him a new and healthy perspective on life.
“There is a lot more good in the world than there is bad,” said Dameron.
Dameron keeps an extremely busy schedule as a realtor, but said he wishes he had more time to devote to helping those who are still battling cancer, people who could benefit from his experience and his perspective.
He does, however, have two pieces of advice that he said he considers crucial to a successful fight against cancer.
“Don’t be afraid to get another [medical] opinion, and don’t be reluctant to accept someone’s help,” said Dameron.