Sandra Heinrich: You have to listen to your body


When she was first diagnosed with colorectal cancer, Sandra Heinrich was 40 years old.  Indeed, her internist told her, “You’re too young to have cancer” when she initially went in for hemorrhaging. The gastroenterologist, however, suggested she immediately get a colonoscopy, and that’s when they found it.

Though the doctor told her she had a 60 percent chance of survival, Sandra knew she faced the biggest challenge of her life.  However, she said that due to her strong faith, she had peace with it. Also, the cancer was diagnosed as being Stage 2, and thankfully had not spread to her lymph nodes.

Her surgeon remained positive.  “I only intend to go into your belly one time,” she said. But even with the successful surgery, she had another scare four years later.

During a regular checkup, Sandra asked her oncologist to have a cat scan. “I don’t even know why I wanted to have one.  I had been in remission for four years and was feeling great,” she said.

But a tumor appeared to have come back. “This time it really scared me.  My sense of security was shattered.”

After praying intently with a nun at the hospital, “Sister Sally,” whom Sandra had gotten to know over the last few years as a volunteer, Sandra went into surgery. The surgeon paged her husband 45 minutes into the procedure to tell him there was no cancer. It wasn’t there.

“I believe God healed me from the cancer in my body while we were praying before surgery.  I don’t question it,” she said. “But regardless of your faith, this kind of cancer is preventable and treatable and beatable.  You have to listen to your body.”

Sandra has remained very involved with the cancer survivor network at her hospital and visits with cancer patients every week.  She said, “When I share my story I can see the hope in the patients’ eyes just by telling them that I am a survivor, too.”

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