Published: July 8, 2008
Updated: Sept. 14, 2010
I was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer in July 2000. The doctors in Georgia gave me a zero percent chance of survival. I went to another hospital, but they weren’t very optimistic there either -- they gave me a 25 percent chance. Then I went to Duke. The odds were against me, but I am beating the odds!
I had surgery and I pulled through with flying colors. I was cancer-free, went through radiation treatment, and everything was fine.
But then the cancer metastasized, and in January 2003 I was diagnosed with cancer in my liver. The doctors weren’t very optimistic, but they gave it their best shot.
By this time, my stomach was huge -- I looked like I was nine months pregnant -- and I had very skinny arms. I looked like those starving kids in Africa. My breathing was erratic and I had to use a wheelchair and cane.
One night, right after I’d been told my chance of survival was slim, I was in my van, hysterically crying and praying. I looked out and saw a big ball of light suspended in air, and as it moved toward me, it formed a star. It stood beside my van, then moved away and disappeared. I couldn’t move or speak, yet at the same time, I felt comforted.
Mysterious things have been happening to me throughout my journey with cancer. Strangers have been coming up to me and giving me messages from God. It’s helping me get through.
My doctors tried oral chemo, but it worked too slowly, so they tried Navelbine. I hemorrhaged, ended up in intensive care, and almost died. After that, the doctors were scared to try anything else. They said, "We think it’s best if you just live what life you have left, because we don’t feel you’re going to make it."
My daughter, Dé, said, "Mommy, Lee Daly said if you needed her, to call her -- so call Duke." (Eloise and Dé met Lee, a physician assistant, while receiving treatment at another cancer center. Lee has since moved to Duke.) So I called Lee, and she said, "No situation is impossible, Eloise. Get over here ASAP -- we’re going to pull you through this."
I came to Duke in May 2003. Lee and Dr. Kim Blackwell orchestrated my treatment.
We also tried the Navelbine, but with another drug, Herceptin. Again, I hemorrhaged. I ended up in a hospital over July 4th weekend. They did emergency surgery to stop the bleeding, and I almost didn’t make it. So I figured, Navelbine is not for me!
Dr. Blackwell suggested another chemo, Taxotere, along with the Herceptin. Dé and I discussed the negatives, and decided to try it.
The Taxotere and Herceptin have been working well. In a few months, the tumors had shrunk by about a third. My stomach started getting smaller, then all of a sudden, I didn’t have to use the wheelchair anymore.
One morning I woke up, and my stomach was flat and my arms were all filled out! When Lee saw me, she called me "a miracle," and Dr. Blackwell was overwhelmed. All of us were hugging! Dr. Blackwell says if these drugs stop working, we’ve got a back-up even more awesome.
I’ve started back to school. I have a degree in mathematics and computer science, and a master’s degree in business administration. Now I’m working on my PhD in ministry at the A&D School of Theology in Wilmington, North Carolina. I’m also writing a book, "As the Storm Rages," about my journey.
I couldn’t have made it this far without the support of my family and friends -- especially my daughter, Dé Corbett. She turned down medical school and moved me into her home to take care of me.
If I didn’t have a strong faith in God, I would be dead by now, and I would not be here at Duke getting the best treatment. Without Lee Daly, Dr. Blackwell, and all of the nurses, I couldn’t have done it. I knew God wanted me at Duke, and I love it here.