AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Evelyn Farmer arrived at Fort Gordon in 2006 ready to serve in the Navy. And back then, the Missouri native knew very little about how cancer impacted her family history.
“I believe that my uncle had colon cancer and it just never was discussed,” she shared.
That lack of knowledge was something the wife and mother of two never thought would matter.
“It could never be me,” Farmer believed. “That’s just pretty much how I thought that I would never be part of that statistic.”
But the odds were not in Farmer’s favor.
“I started having rectal bleeding,” she said of her symptoms. “I also was going to the restroom, but was having no success, didn’t know what was going on, I went to my doctor. They were telling me due to my age, it was probably just a hemorrhoid.”
Not willing to accept what doctors said, Farmer raised her voice to advocate for herself. She requested a colonoscopy at just 38 years old. The result was a cancerous rectal tumor.
“I was actually just shocked. I had literally no emotion,” she said.
Her journey started in the summer of 2019. After a Stage 3 diagnosis with the second deadliest cancer, Farmer launched her treatment plan, one that she said was hopeful because, if caught early, you can survive. So, it was off to Augusta University where she underwent 6 weeks of radiation. There was also a chemo pill and surgery in Athens.
“Due to the radiation, it killed a lot of my tissue and burned a lot of the healthy tissue, so I had to have a permanent colostomy. That’s a stoma where they take part of your intestine, they turn it inside out and they sew it on to your stomach and that’s where your stool now comes from,” she said, noting that most people would not know she has one.
MCG cancer immunologist Dr. Kebin Liu told NewsChannel 6 once colon cancer spreads, it’s hard to treat. He received $1.2 million dollars last year from Veterans Affairs to understand the disease and how it stops the immune system from working the way it should.
Dr. Liu said, “Most people do not have cancer because of immune cells. If your body can’t itself find a way to suppress the immune cell, now you get cancer.”
Despite the odds, Farmer is now an advocate with Colorectal Cancer Alliance drumming up support in the CSRA and beyond.
“I believed that God was going to come through in my life and do a miracle for me. And, I believe that for a lot of people. Whatever your faith is, whatever you’re believing, never give up,” she said. Farmer added she’s also been nominated for a local award through the organization Speak Up Sis.
Farmer wants people to join her in wearing blue on Friday, March 3. It’s Dress in Blue Day for colorectal cancer awareness.
To learn more about colorectal cancer or join the CC Alliance, visit here. You can also take a colon cancer screening quiz.