Spreading the word


GREENVILLE — Jan Teaford of Greenville wants everyone to know that cancer is a diagnosis, not a death sentence. “I’m in this fight to win it,” she said.

She’s been on a mission since being diagnosed with stage 3 colorectal cancer on October 21, 2017, to be inspirational and let people know that more can be survivors. Since learning of her cancer, she has been blogging about her battle every step of the way, documenting her experience through photos and posts on social media. Instagram users can follow her journey on FierceCancerFighter/Instagram where she encourages people to learn about the options and treatment.

Teaford said being told she had cancer was “a total shock” to her because she had regular screenings.

“Thank God it’s me and not one of my sons or daughter-in-law,” said Teaford of her thoughts after hearing her diagnosis. She is mother to two grown sons, Luke, 33, and Nick, 31. “My kids were really my inspiration to get better.”

Her last colonoscopy was three years ago but a long bout with GI problems lead doctors to find a large tumor that was pressing on her nerves, causing Sciatica pain.

“I had no bleeding yet I was stage 3 when diagnosed. This is why it’s (colorectal cancer) called the silent killer. This is why we need to raise awareness,” Teaford stressed.

She said she has a family history of colorectal cancer, her grandmother passed away from rectal cancer.

“So many people mention they have a family member who died of colorectal cancer, rarely do you hear people say they know someone who survived it…..yet early detection creates a lot of survivors,” Teaford said. “By raising awareness, I hope more and more people get screened. It’s easily cured in the early stage but often symptoms don’t appear until it’s advanced.”

March is National Colon Cancer Awareness Month. This year, an estimated 5,550 Ohioans will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 2,100 will die from the disease. Nationwide, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women and the second leading cause of cancer death among men and women combined.

However, the American Cancer Society Cancer ActionNetwork (ACS CAN) says it is also one of the most preventable and successfully treated cancers if diagnosed early. Half of colorectal cancer deaths could be prevented each year if every individual age 50 and older received recommended colorectal cancer screenings.

Teaford encourages people to get screened for the cancer by getting a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy is a procedure that allows a doctor, usually a gastroenterologist, to evaluate the inside of the colon (large intestine) with a tiny camera inserted into the anus. If a colonoscopy isn’t an option, she encourages people to talk to their doctor about other screenings like Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), a non-invasive scan of the body, or a take home fecal occult blood test kit.

“People are afraid of getting screened,” said Teaford. “Afraid to talk about this type of cancer. It’s known as the ‘yucky’ cancer. We need to get over the stigma – colon, rectum, anus – these are body parts, we all have them. We are all at risk of developing this cancer. There is no age barrier (for getting colon cancer.) Typically, people after 50 get the cancer, but now it seems to be more prevalent in younger people.”

She had 96 hours of chemotherapy treatment through a port in her chest, that she just recently had taken out, and six and a half weeks of radiation at Good Samaritan North Hospital in Englewood. Dr. James H. Sabiers, MD, an oncologist in the Dayton Physicians Network was one of four oncologists treating her.

“I’ve had to take it one day at a time,” she said. “It’s been really rough. They (doctors) told me it was going to be bad, but I wasn’t quite prepared for it being quite that bad.”

Teaford moved to Darke County when she was 8 years-old and has been best friends with Cindy McAllister since that time, who she said, was with her every step of the way, going to every treatment she had.

“Many thanks to Cindy McAllister who was with me every step of the way! She was my rock. I couldn’t have done it without her,” said Teaford through tears. She said McAllister helped push her when things got tough encouraging her along the way.

Teaford is a Greenville Senior High School graduate (Class of ‘72). She has worked for the Brethren Retirement Community for almost 12 years and is currently the housing manager for Independent Living.

She said she is grateful for all the support she received and continues to receive from family, friends, coworkers, residents at the Brethren Retirement Community, members of an online support group and members of the community. She said she has received many cards and words of encouragement.

“We are fortunate to live in the age of innovative technology and targeted radiation and new drugs to give us the best chance of survival,” she said. “I believe a positive attitude makes a huge difference in how you deal with the diagnosis and treatment. We all cry…then we get angry….that anger is what fuels the fire to do what you have to do to fight cancer, to get through the rough days of treatment and beyond.”

In April she will have another Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan, a type of nuclear medicine imaging used to diagnose and determine the severity of, or treat, a variety of diseases, including many types of cancers. She’s hoping to be cancer free, but understands that her fight may not be over yet. She may have to have part of her colon surgically removed and it may be necessary to attach the remaining colon to the outside of the body in a procedure called colostomy.

“It’s a small price to pay for life,” she said. “For the rest of my life I will be an advocate.”

Courtesy photo Teaford with her best friend Cindy McAllister, who she said, was with her every step of the way. They were heading to get a makeover at Sephora after picking out a wig after Teaford’s hair loss from cancer treatment.
https://www.dailyadvocate.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/web1_IMG_3370-2.jpgCourtesy photo Teaford with her best friend Cindy McAllister, who she said, was with her every step of the way. They were heading to get a makeover at Sephora after picking out a wig after Teaford’s hair loss from cancer treatment.
Cancer fighter encourages early screening

By Christina Chalmers

[email protected]

Tips to reduce your risk of developing colorectal/anal cancer

1. Get screened

2. If you smoke – quit

3. Eliminate processed foods. If God made it, eat it. If man made it, leave it.

4. Be aware of changes in bowel habits

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