Cynthia Herr

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Rectal Cancer Treatment

Anorectal Cancer Patient Stories

Cynthia Herr

Since beating cancer, Cyndie Herr has become a nutritional expert

Read about Cyndie's son, Zachary Herr, and his efforts to raise money for cancer research at Fox Chase Cancer Center. Zach's inaugural golf event in June 2008, netted $45,000 for Fox Chase Cancer Center.

Rectal Cancer

Cyndie Herr is just like most suburban moms - she drives her three children to play practice, soccer, golf, birthday parties . . . the list goes on! She has a network of terrific friends with whom she carpools, as well as socializes. Like many moms these days, Cyndie is health-conscious and provides nutritious food choices for her family.

Cyndie's oldest child, Zach, happens to be an exceptional golf player and the family has developed a strong relationship with his instructor, Dom DiJulia. When Zach heard about the "master cleanse" diet through Dom, he begged his parents to try it. Although the cleanse consisted of organic foods, Zach's parents were weary of their son trying something new. "He's just a kid, after all," said Cyndie, who finally decided to try it herself before allowing her son to.

"I tried the cleanse as instructed, but given my lifestyle, it was challenging," explained Cyndie. After modifying the diet, Cyndie successfully finished a seven-week course. "Almost immediately, I noticed blood in my stool," she said. Once Cyndie got over the shock of what she saw, she told her husband.

"I encouraged her to see a doctor right away," said her husband, Eric. Cyndie sat in the doctor's office and stared at a poster on the wall, which illustrated what a rectal tumor looked like. Just minutes later, after her sigmoidoscopy, Cyndie would find herself looking at the screen seeing the same exact image.

"Cancer happens to other people -- not to me."

"As soon as I saw it, I knew I had cancer," recalled Cyndie. She thought, "This happens to other people -- not to me. I'm only 44." When she returned home, Cyndie told her family about the visit, but never used the word cancer. Her daughter, Erica, who was in 5th grade at the time, assumed it was and shared the news with her classmates the following day. Fortunately, one of these girls told her parents, both of whom worked in the medical field. The girl's father called Cyndie and suggested she see Dr. Neal Meropol, a former oncologist specializing in gastrointestinal cancer at Fox Chase Cancer Center.

"Fox Chase is a one-stop shop because they took care of all of my needs."

Cyndie explained, "When I learned that Fox Chase had the latest testing equipment and treatment available, I felt so fortunate to live so close to a premier cancer center. Fox Chase is a one-stop shop because they took care of all of my needs. I felt confident knowing I was in the right place - a place where doctors and nurses spend every minute treating cancer."

"Cancer is the best thing that happened to me. I now take my health very seriously."

Looking around the waiting room, Cyndie felt out of place. "I thought I was too young to be here; that it wasn't my time to have cancer," said Cyndie. Dr. Meropol explained that if she had waited for her first annual colonoscopy at age 50, she would not probably not have been alive. Chances are that the cancer would have been aggressive and spread to her liver or lungs. By catching the disease early, she would most likely be cured. "Cancer is the best thing that happened to me. I now take my health very seriously. My husband says I'm on the 'cancer radar' so if anything new pops up, it can be treated right away," said Cyndie.

"Fox Chase is wonderful. You can really feel the human touch factor here."

Cyndie's treatment consisted of a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy; surgery; and chemotherapy alone. "Fox Chase is a wonderful place. I never really knew much about it until I needed a cancer center. You can really feel the human touch factor here. My whole team - Dr. Meropol, Margot Sweed, Dr. Nancy Lewis, Dr. Sigurdson, Dr. Konski and Eileen McGarrity - these are people who are truly dedicated to helping their patients," she said.

"I believe that medical professionals are given the gift of medical knowledge. By utilizing this information, they understand how to fight defective cells give patients back their quality of life. The doctors and nurses at Fox Chase have the knowledge to help change lives," explained Cyndie.

"I can make a difference in people's lives."

Through her ordeal, Cyndie found that rectal cancer is one disease that people do not usually discuss. When her neighbor found out about Cyndie's cancer, he asked her husband how it was detected. Apparently the neighbor also had blood in his stool but was afraid and chose to ignore it. When he learned it could be a symptom of rectal cancer, he saw his doctor. Turns out, Cyndie's neighbor also had rectal cancer. "People are embarrassed to talk about rectal cancer. I used to be one of those people myself. It is satisfying to know that I can make a difference in people's lives by helping them find the courage to see medical treatment," explained Cyndie.

"I need to fight this disease so I can be around for the people who needed me."

During treatment, Cyndie had bouts of feeling bad for herself, just like many cancer patients do. "My husband reminded me that it's not always about me - I need to fight this disease so I can be around for the people who needed me. And I want to be there for my family. I want to be the mom who goes to birthday parties, helps with homework, drives the carpool. I knew I had to take control of my health," she said. Cyndie has taken this opportunity to educate her family and friends about cancer, nutrition and overall health.

She explained, "I wanted to be the best patient I could be. The doctors do their part and I did mine. I don't want to be a passenger in the healthcare bus. I wanted to be the driver."

Cyndie's son, Zachary, is extremely appreciative to the medical professionals at Fox Chase for helping save his mom's life. He has decided to raise money so that research can continue at Fox Chase Cancer Center. Help Zach attack cancer by visiting his website zachattackscancer.cfsites.org/index.php