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Building Awareness Together - Vallie’s Story

Building Awareness Together Building together

“We see a need and we jump in – we just love.”

~Vallie Gibby

Trust & Persistence Lead to Cancer Diagnosis & Survivorship

Vallie Gibby looked out her living room window at the steel gray Pacific Ocean stretching to the horizon. Sipping on a mug of spicy tea and spooning fresh whipped cream on an Oregon strawberry, she emphatically stated, “I would have been dead by now."

The 69-year-old Lincoln City woman was reflecting on how her diagnosis of colon cancer could have been the end for her.

She sips again from her mug. “I’m Canadian, you know, and we enjoy our afternoon tea.”

Tea isn’t the only thing Vallie and Lynn, her husband of 40 years, enjoy. Since retirement, they have traveled to many countries around the world, both for pleasure and through volunteerism with Church of the Nazarene. Every year they volunteer with a mission in Mexico.

“We see a need and we jump in,” she said. “We just love.”

Background image: Vallie and her husband Lyn. TEST
Caring for others comes naturally to Vallie. She is retired from a long and varied nursing career — including working with breast cancer clinicians at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia — before moving to Lincoln City a decade ago. Because of this, she is very knowledgeable about medicine,
patient care and the potential outcomes of terrible diseases such as colon cancer.

In late 2017, Vallie’s primary care doctor, Marilyn Fraser, MD, reminded her that it was time for a routine 10-year colonoscopy. Despite feeling perfectly healthy and having no symptoms, Vallie agreed to make an appointment because she respects Dr. Fraser, not because she thought she was at risk or feared the outcomes she witnessed during her health care career.

“She’s top notch,” Vallie says of Dr. Fraser, with a smile. “I adore her. Oh, and she’s Canadian, too.”

Shortly after her colonoscopy at Samaritan North Lincoln Hospital, Vallie learned from general surgeon Arun Raman, MD, that there was part of a polyp inside a tricky bend of her colon that he was uncertain about.

“Dr. Raman explained to me that sometimes repeating the colonoscopy on another day allows the surgeon to have a better view and to remove a lesion, if needed,” said Vallie.
Background image: Vallie and her friend working on quilting projects.

“I would rather do 1,000 colonoscopies than to have to find one more colon cancer.”

~Dr. Arun Raman

So Vallie made an appointment with another surgeon at Dr. Raman’s request.

“Dr. Raman is entirely confident in what he does, yet humble in spirit,” Vallie recalled. “He was not afraid to tell me that he was not 100% satisfied with what he saw and that he wanted another surgeon’s opinion. I love him and the gift that he is to his patients.”

Dr. Raman appreciated Vallie’s comments and offered a hint as to why his passion is so strong.

“At age 29, I diagnosed my 30-year-old best friend with stage 4 colon cancer,” said Dr. Raman. “Roshan died five years later but remains one of the most fun, interesting and intelligent people I’ve ever known. He is why I would rather do 1,000 colonoscopies than have to find one more colon cancer.”

Background image: Scrabble pieces that read Vallie loves Lynn.
Just days after her first colonoscopy, Vallie was in for round two with Gregory Schwartz, MD, at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center.

“Immediately afterwards, Dr. Schwartz kindly said to me, ‘You have Stage 2-A cancer.’ No matter how prepared you think you are for this possibility, there is still the shock factor,” Vallie said, recalling that moment. “But, I couldn’t pretend it’s not there. I knew that I needed to get it out.”

Very quickly, Vallie had an appointment to go back and see Dr. Raman to remove the cancerous tissue. Based on a genetic study, Vallie didn’t need to undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatment.

“Even though it was Christmastime, Dr. Raman visited me while I was in the hospital,” said Vallie. “His reassuring words helped me stay calm as I began the healing process.”

Vallie sees a cancer specialist every three months to monitor the cancer markers in her blood and has a CT or MRI scan of her intestine annually. After a colonoscopy one year after surgery, she received a clean bill of health and now only has to have a colonoscopy every three years. 

“I feel fabulous and am forever grateful for Dr. Raman and Samaritan North Lincoln Hospital for saving my life,” she said. “Going forward, I know I am in the best of hands and look forward to a long and healthy life.”
Background image: Vallie and Lyn walking. TEST

Vallie and fellow quilting volunteer.

Hands working on a quilting project.

Scrabble pieces that read, "By the Sea."

Vallie having tea.

Patient and husband walking together.

Patient sharing her thoughts.

Screening Is Life Saving

Cancer of the colon (bowel or intestine) is common. It occurs in both men and women and often in those over age 50. Early detection is essential for increased chance of survival. If you are 45 or older or have a family history of colorectal cancer, talk to your clinician today about screening options.

Colonoscopy: What Does Your Doctor See?

A tiny camera allows an inside view of the colon. In this video, polyps are visible. While most polyps are not cancerous, tissue samples are taken for testing. Learn about colonoscopy services.

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