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Healthwise: Life After Cancer

May 4, 2011

Cancer survivor Donna Southard is turning her dreams into a reality from obtaining an associate degrees to skydiving.

"Sometimes doing chemo I was sitting there doing my homework, then jumped out the plane," said Southard. Southard was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2008 and went to the Martha Jefferson Cancer Team for treatment. She says the team is the reason she has been able to accomplish her goals.

"They took pretty good care of you, they made sure you were comfortable. It was great," said Southard. For weeks, Southard, along with her husband and sister made daily two and a half hour trips to and from the hospital. Her family was by her side as doctors performed a technique called Setero-Tatic Radio surgery. The method worked to give Southard a very high dose of radiation in a pin-point target. Now, Southard is cancer free.

"We didn't cut any corners with Donna, we were able to be aggressive with her and had the ability to some very advanced techniques, so we were able to push the envelope and treat her," said Dr. Sylvia Hendrix, of Martha Jefferson Hospital. Donna says the specialized care was what she needed to start over, and adds that it is something she is recommending to others who are fighting cancer.

"You can't let it stop you you might as well curl up an die you have to keep going," said Southard. "You may have cancer but don't let cancer have you." Southard says she lives by those words, as she sets out to do everything she has ever wanted to do.

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