Nancy Chandler was very excited to shout “Blingo!” on the Buckeye Cruise for Cancer, a vacation that has a deeper meaning to her as a cancer survivor. She had just recently endured a chemotherapy treatment and wasn’t feeling too great, but she was determined to have a great vacation with her family. Nancy proudly showed off her winning bingo board and accepted her “bling": a Pandora bracelet adorned with Ohio State charms.
Nancy’s cancer journey began in 2005 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and received treatment that put her cancer in remission. But only a few years later, in 2008, Nancy faced the devastating news that she had breast cancer again and underwent a double mastectomy to defeat the cancer.
But doctors had also found a small spot of melanoma on the back of her calf that was “not even half an inch” in size. For this, Nancy went to The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute and had approximately eight inches of melanoma removed from the back of her leg.
In 2010, Nancy discovered a lump on her arm that looked like she had just bumped it. The melanoma had metastasized. Specialists at the OSUCCC – James conducted surgery removing it from her right upper arm and left thigh. The cancer was so aggressive that they also removed 60 percent of Nancy’s liver. Nancy was told that she’d have to stay two or three days in the intensive care, but she was stronger than the doctor anticipated. After the surgery, she had no need for the intensive care unit.
Two years later, Nancy’s oncologist, Kari Kendra, MD, PhD, found that she had four inoperable tumors in different parts of her body. The type of melanoma Nancy had was fast acting and Dr. Kendra discovered it had grown back to 95 percent of the original amount. Dr. Kendra gave Nancy new leukine shots for one year to keep the cancer from spreading and later received shots of interleukin II. As a result of these new drugs, one of the tumors has since been removed and one has shrunk.
Today, Nancy is living with three non-growing tumors thanks to her care team at the OSUCCC – James. As a celebration of her survivorship, Nancy and her family have vacationed on three Buckeye Cruises for Cancer, a one-of-a-kind cruise from Florida raising money for cancer research. Her favorite memory onboard is watching the Ohio State football players on board interact with her grandkids.
Nancy says that her story is a “message of hope,” and she has the doctors at the OSUCCC – James to thank for keeping her alive. “When I thought my life was pretty much over, they gave me hope. They were very encouraging.”