ALBANY, GA (WALB) - It's been a year since WALB's own Ruthie Garner finished chemotherapy, after being diagnosed with one of the rarest forms of cancer. And for the first time, she's opening up to share her journey. Ruthie credits prayer and an amazing team of doctors and nurses, who'll introduce you to, as we take a closer look at Ruthie's Story.
After nearly two years of fighting, Ruthie Garner is now celebrating. "As far as I'm concerned I am, I'm cancer free," said Ruthie.
Ruthie continues to meet with her doctor every three months until a big milestone in October, which marks two years from when Ruthie was diagnosed with stage 3 Fallopian Tube Cancer.
"It's like 1 percent of all the gynecological cancers that a woman can have," she explained. "And that's what I had."
While Ruthie felt fine, she knew something was wrong in the summer of 2013, when she began spotting.
"Anytime there's spotting or anything like that, changes with your body, after the age of 50, you need to get that checked out. Because it's usually not a good sign," she said.
And it wasn't. Ruthie's doctor in Albany found a mass, but she had to have surgery to find out exactly what the mass was.
"Unfortunately a lot of the tests that we have, CT scans, MRIs, ultra-sounds, they're helpful, but it's sort of looking at a black box," explained Dr. Joe Boveri, M.D., F.A.C.O.G. "It gives you a sense of what's there, but it doesn't tell you specifically what it is. And the only way to really know what it is- is to get the tissue under the microscope."
Ruthie credits divine intervention for leading her to Dr. Joe Boveri at DeKalb Medical Center near Atlanta.
"Meeting with my doctor and a couple other physicians, because of what I had they all without even talking to each other, they all said the same man's name, who is Dr. Joe Boveri," she said.
Dr. Boveri moved forward with surgery in October 2013, but that was just the beginning.
"I had a complete hysterectomy and that was followed by six cycles which consists of three treatments of chemo. So it was 18 total treatments and that was from January to April of 2014," said Ruthie.
Dr. Boveri treats each case differently and chose a rigorous, aggressive treatment for Ruthie, which many hospitals don't do.
"The point of doing an aggressive treatment at the very front end is because we have the very best opportunity to eradicate the tumor completely. And that's why we're so aggressive with treatment," explained Boveri. "And Ruthie actually tolerated it really well."
Ruthie said family and friends for helped her get through the darkest days.
"I can remember I had a couple of meltdowns, and I can remember both times I had those meltdowns, Mike came in with roses. Or Stephen would sit on the couch and hug me. So family, family and friends like you," said Ruthie.
Ruthie, who's been a familiar face at WALB for more than 30 years, stepped away from the spotlight for nearly a year, but returned healthy and with a different outlook on life.
"It changes how you look at things and what's important, what's not," explained Ruthie. "Things that you used to get up tight about or stress over, you don't stress over those things anymore. They don't matter."
What does matter now for her is becoming an advocate for other women.
"If I could just help women realize that when things are changing, not to ignore them, they're not going to go away if you ignore them. You need to get in and see your doctor."
Dr Boveri considers Ruthie's case a success.
"You couple her exam, with how she's feeling and her scans all together and that would be consistent with somebody who's got no evidence of disease and that's as good as it gets," he said.
While it was a long road to recovery, Ruthie credits the staff and prayer for her victory.
"I told you, you and God together are a good team," said Ruthie.