8 u A b C o m P r e H e N S I V e C A N C e r C e N T e r
IT WAS abdominal pain that brought Ms.
Taylor to UAB to see her primary care phy-
sician, Edwin Rutsky, M.D., and although
concerned, she never expected the events
that would follow. Dr. Rutsky’s suggestion of
a colonoscopy made sense to her. “I should
have gotten a colonoscopy anyway, because I
was 51,” Ms. Taylor says. The test was per-
formed on a Monday, and gastroenterologist
Peter Sugandha, M.D., found a suspicious
polyp, she says. After a biopsy, he recom-
mended surgery to remove it.
Her next meeting that same afternoon
was with gastrointestinal surgeon Ernesto
Drelichman, M.D., to discuss surgery to
remove part of her colon. “Dr. Drelichman
comes in and introduces himself, and he pulls
out a diagram of the digestive system and
says, ‘We’ll make a cut here, and we’ll make
a cut here,’” recalls Ms. Taylor. “I thought,
‘Wait—we don’t have the biopsy results
yet, so why are we removing so much of my
Dr. Drelichman told her that even without
the results of her biopsy, they knew that they
would have to remove the area surgically.
That was when it hit her, she says. “I turned
to my friend and said, ‘Well, I guess I have
Just four days later, Ms. Taylor underwent
surgery to remove 10 inches of her colon.
Only a few days into her recovery at the hos-
pital, she received still more bad news: The
doctors had found that the cancer had spread
to one of her lymph nodes, and she was going
to need chemotherapy.
In May of that year, Ms. Taylor began
chemotherapy under the care of UAB
Comprehensive Cancer Center scientist
and gastrointestinal oncologist James Posey,
M.D. After eight months of biweekly chemo
treatments, she received a much-appreciated
Christmas present: Her treatment was fin-
ished, and all tests showed no sign of cancer.
She has remained healthy—and grateful—
A gRAtEfUL pAtIENt During her time at the Cancer Center, Ms.
Taylor says, she knew she was in good hands.
“Dr. Posey is wonderful, and the chemo
nurses are some of the finest human beings
on earth,” she says. “My care here was out-
standing in every way. And what’s important
is that not only did I get the best medical
care just in terms of knowledge, procedures,
skills and expertise, but the kindness of the
people that I encountered was extraordinary.”
Ms. Taylor still returns to the Cancer
Center for regular follow-up care and credits
UAB with saving her life. “I feel very pas-
sionate about the Cancer Center and about
raising money for it because, when you’re
sitting here in the waiting room, you see real
people whose lives have been turned upside
down,” she says. “My journey was easy. I had
a job, insurance and a wonderful support
system of family and friends. But you meet
people who lose their job, who don’t know
how they’re going to pay the bills, or who
don’t have a support system, and you think,
‘How do you get through this?’ But when you
know what the Cancer Center does, it’s just
amazing. Every life saved by treatment at the
Cancer Center impacts many other lives.”
Since her treatment, Ms. Taylor has
become one of the Cancer Center’s most loyal
B Y H E A T H E R W A T T S
ONE WEEK IN MARCH 2008 CHANGED BIRMINGHAM RESIDENT KATHY TAYLOR’S LIFE FOREVER.
SiNce her treAtmeNt At the uAB comPreheNSive
cANcer ceNter, mS. tAyLor hAS Become
ONE Of Its MOst LOyAL sUppORtERs.