In July of 2019, Sheila McGraw began experiencing some strange symptoms. Her face, temples, and neck had swelled significantly. She assumed the reaction was due to allergies. Cancer never crossed her mind.
“Throughout the scans and the tests, I didn’t feel sick. I even told my husband, at least it’s not cancer,” she said.
However, the results revealed stage 3 lung cancer, as well as an aneurysm on the right side of her brain.
“The reason I was so swollen, is because a tumor was pressing on a vein and cutting off my blood supply.”
She was referred to the QMG Cancer Institute, where she was cared for by QMG Oncologist Dr. Karthik Koduru and former QMG Oncologist Dr. Vitor Pastorini.
“I said number one, we’re not going to name it because anything you give a name to, you have to claim and I did not want this in my body. So, we got rid of it. With the help of the doctors, nurses, and everyone we did just that. I know I wouldn’t have made it without them.”
McGraw’s last cancer treatment was in January of 2020 and she is now in remission. Throughout the journey, she said people would often comment on her positive attitude. That optimism, she said, is what got her through the most difficult time of her life.
“You have to have a positive attitude. There were days, I slept the whole day and felt awful, but I never thought I wasn’t going to beat this. I just realized the tough treatments and days were all part of the cure and I was just going to take it. I kept telling myself how blessed I was that the doctors found the cancer when they did.”
As a cancer survivor, McGraw said her outlook on life has changed.
“My diagnosis changed my entire life. It changed the whole dynamic of my family. We became closer and we just don’t sweat the small stuff anymore.”