Kim Duncan – colon cancer success story

Holistic healing

How one woman’s cancer journey was made easier with lifestyle changes

It was the celebratory trip she’d been looking forward to. Kim Duncan enjoyed the sights and moments with family on her 50th birthday trip to Chicago — until she got a call from Paul Hackett, MD. The colorectal surgeon on the medical staff at Methodist Charlton Medical Center told her he needed to see her in his office as soon as possible.

“I had recently had a colonoscopy, so I knew he probably was not bringing me in to give me good news,” Kim says. Still, the colon cancer diagnosis was shocking, not to mention difficult to share with her friends and family.

Kim Duncan – colon cancer success storySurgery and strategy

Dr. Hackett told Kim she had transverse colon cancer, which involved the right side of her colon. This cancerous section of her colon would have to be removed.

The surgery was successful, but Kim’s oncologist, Cheryl Harth, MD, also on the medical staff at Methodist Charlton, suggested chemotherapy as a precaution.

“Although no lymph nodes were involved, the tumor was large and showed early signs of invasion into the bloodstream and lymphatic channels,” Dr. Harth says.

It was during this period of her cancer journey that Kim, a high school principal, began to take a more holistic approach to her health. She started reading books on cancer and learned about different foods and the effects they could have on her healing.

“I was in the fight of my life, and I was in it to win,” Kim says. Here are some of the ways that Kim’s cancer journey benefited from lifestyle changes.

Teaming with her physicians. Kim worked closely with her physicians to safely and effectively adopt a healthier lifestyle. In addition to Drs. Hackett and Harth, Kim found support from her family medicine physician, Jill Waggoner, MD, with Methodist Charlton Medical Group. Dr. Waggoner specializes in treating the whole person and encouraged Kim to focus on her overall healing, including physical and emotional health.

Overhauling her diet. Kim stopped eating fried foods and began eating foods rich in antioxidants, such as nuts, sweet potatoes, blueberries, spinach, and kale. She took vitamins, like B-12 and D. Instead of carrot cake, she snacked on strawberries.
“I learned that a diet high in fat and sugar is a major risk factor for cancer and could be one of the reasons why more and more young people are diagnosed with the disease,” she says.

Prioritizing exercise. Exercise was nothing new to Kim. Since she was 16 years old, she exercised and walked. But during her cancer treatment, she made sure to keep up those healthy habits. As a result, she had more energy and coped better with chemotherapy symptoms.

Taking time for herself. Kim focused on pampering her body with relaxing massages. She also welcomed the help of family and friends, who provided support and home-cooked meals, giving her more time to rest and focus on wellness.

Digging deeper spiritually. As a woman of faith, Kim became even more in touch with her spirituality during her cancer journey. Prayer and reading the Bible helped to combat the stress that can impede the healing process. She drew strength from verses like John 6:63: “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you — they are full of the Spirit and life” (NIV).

Wishing others well

Kim was declared cancer-free this year but will continue to be monitored annually by Dr. Waggoner. She willingly shares her experience with cancer, hoping it will help someone else.

“I had a team of family, friends, and doctors to help me,” she says. “Now I want to do whatever I can to help someone else.”