QMG Patient Vicki McColez

The past four and a half years have been full of gratitude for Vicki McColez, despite going through some of the most challenging days of her life.

After experiencing a couple months of persistent back pain, she received a surprising diagnosis – stage 4 breast cancer.

“I started experiencing some backaches and I just thought since I was getting older it was just from old age or I had strained it somehow,” she shared. “I went to a couple of chiropractors and the pain seemed to be getting worse, not better. So, my husband said maybe you should go get this checked out.”

McColez came to Quincy Medical Group (QMG), where she had a visit with Nurse Practitioner Jennifer Walker.

“She was lovely and said ‘I’m thinking it’s your sciatic nerve, but we’re going to do an MRI, and see if we can figure out what’s going on,’” she said.

The results showed a burst fracture, an injury in which the vertebra, the primary bone of the spine, breaks in multiple directions.

After she heard the results, she went to see a neurosurgeon, who suspected what might have caused the fracture. McColez was admitted to the hospital, as doctors worked to confirm her diagnosis.

QMG Internal Medicine Physician Dr. Adam Reyburn came the following morning to see her with news she didn’t expect. She had metastatic breast cancer that had spread to her bones, her liver, and a few spots in her lungs.

“When they told me, I didn’t cry, but my husband and kids did. I was just in shock. I was just lying there, but when I heard the word ‘treatable,’ I had hope.”

After 21 days in the hospital, McColez came home.

“I was so happy to be home. My faith was so important. I prayed every day for God to either take me or heal me. The journey was going to be hard and I knew it,” she recalled.

Now four and a half years later, McColez said she’s so grateful for her faith, her family, the care of her team at the QMG Cancer Institute, and her doctor QMG Oncologist Dr. M. Amjad Ali.

McColez has gotten to know those at the QMG Cancer Institute well. She goes once a month for treatment, which she will continue. She is monitored closely by the QMG team and recently started a new treatment regimen after a recent biopsy. Again, she heard the words ‘treatable.’

“Several years ago, they would say make yourself comfortable and get your affairs in order. But, I was never told that. I was told it was treatable. Cancer isn’t the death sentence it once was,” she said.

After a recent visit, Dr. Ali shared with her that there are many options for her.

“Dr. Ali said new drugs come out about once a month, and he said we have so many options right now, which is amazing. It’s not like we’re down to just one option. He is always finding new things,” she said.

She has formed a bond with the team at the QMG Cancer Institute and appreciates all the team has done for her.

“The doctors and nurses are amazing. I go into the Cancer Institute and I’ve been seeing them for four years. I tell them stories about me and they share stories about themselves. You know, they love me and I love them. They are all just great people.”