By Christy Womack
Cancer has touched all of us, and when it strikes, it affects the whole family, not just the patient. Shela Moffett-Fabri, owner of Rion Flowers and Gifts, knows that all too well. She was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer that had metastasized to her uterus, ovaries, and lymph nodes with spots on her liver and lungs. She underwent chemotherapy and surgery. They removed seven pounds of cancer in May of last year and they were confident that they had gotten it all. But after only six month of remission, Shela learned her cancer was back and this time it has mutated multiple times and metastasized to her liver and abdomen.
Despite her illness, Shela works virtually every day in the flower shop and is participating in several charities and fundraisers to raise awareness about early detection. She is a very strong woman who insists on maintaining a positive mental state of mind. “I want my little boy to see someone strong in me, and if I can help save someone else by promoting early detection, then that is what I want to do,” she says.
Early detection of cancer greatly increases the chances for successful treatment. There are two major components of early detection – education to promote early diagnosis and screening. Shela insists it all starts with knowing your family history. “After I was diagnosed, I found out that colon cancer was in my extended family history. Because of that, they should have started screening me at 40 years old. Without a family history, you start screening at 50. They diagnosed my cancer at 44. If I had been screened at 40, I might still have found colon cancer, but it would have been before it had metastasized. It’s your future. It’s your family. It’s your history. You have to research and find out while your relatives are still young enough to remember their ancestors.”
“I know of three other people in Murfreesboro who have had the same experience,” says Shela. “I have a strong faith in God and I understand that when we die is not our decision. We are all born to die. But I want to help people learn from my experience.”
In an effort to do that Shela and Team Kick-It participates in the Undy Run, a walk/run that benefits colon cancer. You can sign up online and choose Shela’s team Kick-It to be a participant. She is also helping to organize a soccer tournament this year to raise awareness of lung, breast and colon cancer at the end of July. “Kicking Cancer Mid-TN” will feature seven teams in a soccer tournament and there will be a raffle and silent auction for gift baskets and tshirts that say “Kick Colon Cancer In The GR-Ass,” to sell to raise both funds and awareness. Raffling has already begun on the Kicking Cancer Mid-Tn Facebook page. “We are helping a former travel soccer coach who has lung and brain cancer and a former player whose dad has leukemia. There is a bank account set up at Regions under Kicking Cancer Mid-TN for those who cannot make it to the tournament. The indoor soccer tournament is at MTSU’s recreation center on July 30 from 9-5. We will also be selling the raffle tickets at the Shell station on Northfield near the college that day.”
“I want to be a part of the cure,” says Shela. “Every day they discover something new to fight cancer. I’ve seen on the news where they are using polio and even the HIV vaccines, but I haven’t heard if it is specifically used for colon cancer, but these are treatment methods for those who have had no luck with other medications and is a last resort. I am very grateful to my doctors Dr. Gian at Tennessee Oncology in Murfreesboro, Dr. Briley, her colorectal surgeon in Nashville, and now for the trial procedure with Dr. Bendell at Sarah Cannon Cancer Center. I believe our paths were meant to cross. I am committed to a positive mental state to give my body the best I possibly can.”
“I think it’s important for you to listen to your body. Your body is made to tell you things. This has been hard on my family, my parents, my husband, and my son. I want to help someone else not to have to go through what I’ve been through.”
So go ask your family about your extended family medical history. And go ask your doctor what screenings might be necessary. Tell them Shela sent you.