Choosing Joy: Gaining new perspective at Valley View’s Calaway-Young Cancer Center

Angie Apostolik always considered herself a “healthy” person. She’d never been admitted to a hospital, except to give birth to her four children at Valley View. It wasn’t until she had a physical in the fall of 2021 that anything seemed remotely out of order, until some routine bloodwork led to a cancer diagnosis.

“When I got the call to come back to the office, and was told it would be best if I brought someone with me, I knew what that meant,” says Angie.

The scan revealed a six-centimeter tumor in Angie’s colon. “I went home that day, laid on the couch and sobbed all afternoon. I was in a bad way for two days and then, I decided I was going to fight.”

Angie’s husband Chuck took the lead on doing research and setting up next steps for treatment with Valley View doctors at both the Gastroenterology Center and Calaway-Young Cancer Center. After a week of absorbing the information, Angie and Chuck shared the diagnosis with their family.

Soon after, the tumor and part of Angie’s colon was removed. She then embarked on chemotherapy treatments twice a month for six months at Calaway-Young Cancer Center. During treatment Angie was accompanied by her husband Chuck or high-school aged daughter, Gwynn. “I wanted her to come with me, to teach her resilience, and how not to crumble when something bad happens in your life,” says Angie.

The staff at the cancer center embraced Angie and her family, encouraging them every day.

“I cannot say enough about the people I have met on this journey,” says Angie. “They cannot know what they mean to me. It was never, ‘Oh poor thing, you have cancer,’ it was always, ‘Let’s do this, let’s get through this.’ They were always positive, cheerful and upbeat. They instilled peace and hope.”

After completing her treatment in September of 2022, Angie did a year of blood work and CT scans every quarter. Tests to date shows no cancer and her tumor markers are low.

“It’s been an amazing journey. I don’t wish it on anyone, but it definitely helped me get my head on straight, on what’s important and what’s not important,” she says.

Angie has become what she calls “a warrior,” advocating for people to be vigilant about their checkups, and all routine screenings. “If I had stayed on top of things, they could have caught this a lot earlier. Right now, my outcome is good, but I could have avoided a lot of pain and stress.”

Angie says that overall her cancer journey has changed her outlook on life for the better.

“I used to stress about stupid things,” she says, “and now I really choose joy. I think I’m more aware of being in the moment. I’m grateful for the little things. I realize things are not always going to be perfect, but I’m not going to let this define my life. I’m definitely going to make sure I use the gift I’ve been given. Because life is a precious thing.”