By LARISSA COPELAND
When Ann Glenn of Yukon was diagnosed with esophageal adenocarcinoma cancer in 2013, she already knew what kind of battle she was facing. Her husband, Chuck Glenn, was, at the time, a 13-year survivor of the disease.
“I didn’t do a whole lot of research in terms of statistics, because I had done it with him,” Ann Glenn said. “And (the statistics) were horrible.”
Now the Glenns are five- and 18-year cancer survivors, and they use their “bonus time” to spread their message of faith, family and recovery.
At first, Ann Glenn said, her symptoms led her to believe she was suffering from an ulcer. She’d dealt with them in college, and it was a similar experience. But an endoscopy confirmed that she had the Stage 3 esophageal adenocarcinoma, and treatment began not long after.
Unlike her husband’s monthly treatments, Ann Glenn said she endured radiation and six rounds of chemotherapy over consecutive weeks.
“The radiation, to me, was the hardest part,” she said, adding that while she didn’t have pain or burns or some other symptoms often attributed to radiation, she was extremely fatigued.
At the end of 2013, Ann Glenn finished her radiation. After about six weeks, she said, a scan confirmed that her cancer was gone, and she remained cancer-free for about another nine months.
“But as I came up on the one-year anniversary, the scans were good but when they did the scope they found that it had recurred on a microscopic level,” Glenn said.
Now facing cancer for the third time – once for herself, and once for her husband – Glenn had to decide if she was up for another battle.
“For recurrences like me, the survivor rate is something like 3%,” she said.
Ultimately, she chose to undergo a surgical treatment that removes the esophagus entirely.
“It’s a 12-hour surgery,” Glenn said, adding that she had the procedure in October 2014. And while she expected to survive, she made sure preparations were in place in case she did not.
“I trusted God with whatever happened, but I planned as if I wouldn’t survive,” she said. “I wrote my obituary, and I planned my funeral – my pallbearers, the music, who would speak, which scripture would be read.”
Chuckling, she added, “I’m kind of a control freak.”
When Glenn woke up from the procedure, she learned the surgery had been a success. But that was the first step in another long recovery that included six months on a feeding tube, regaining her strength and spending a lot of her time in a wheelchair. One day at dinner, she said, she wasn’t even able to lift her silverware.
Slowly, she regained her strength and mobility.
Glenn still suffers from nausea, but she can eat whatever she wants, she said.
As far as Ann Glenn’s concerned, her husband’s recovery was nothing short of a healing from God.
“We went to a worship service (while he was undergoing treatment),” she said. “… We sneaked in the back, and we didn’t talk to anyone. He (Chuck) looked terrible.”
That’s when he started to cry, his wife said.
“The next morning, the doctor was putting the feeding tube in, and he told me that the cancer was gone from his esophagus,” Ann Glenn said.
And while the cancer did linger in Chuck Glenn’s body, he was cleared after his final chemotherapy, and he has remained cancer free since then.
Now, the two of them divide their time among their church, volunteer work, Chuck Glenn’s part-time job and their family.
“We know we’re on bonus years,” Ann Glenn said. “What do we want to do with that? We want to invest in our grandchildren; we want to make memories with them.”