Henry Vehorn may be one of the most positive people on the planet.
“It became a joy to go to chemotherapy,” the 73-year-old Lexington County man said. “I never felt like it was a bad situation.”
Henry’s journey with cancer began in 2013. He was laying sod during a sweltering South Carolina summer. So he didn’t think much of it when his wife said she thought he was losing a lot of weight. When his weight loss continued after the landscaping project ended, Henry decided it was time to see a doctor.
“I went 70 years without as much as a headache,” Henry said.
Lexington Medical Center doctors diagnosed Henry with aggressive stomach cancer. Within weeks, he underwent surgery to remove the tumor and part of his stomach. His chemotherapy and radiation treatments started the day after Christmas.That’s when he met Quillin Davis, MD, a radiation oncologist and medical director of cancer services at Lexington Medical Cancer Center.
“The radiation and chemotherapy for stomach cancer is tough,” Dr. Davis said. “But Henry just couldn’t have been any nicer or more grateful throughout his treatment.”
Henry’s health troubles continued. Months after his initial diagnosis, a scan revealed the stomach cancer had spread to Henry’s liver. He underwent a second round of chemotherapy and radiation.
This time, Dr. Davis blasted the lesion in Henry’s liver using stereotactic radiosurgery inside Lexington Radiation Oncology, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice. The procedure uses high doses of radiation with pinpoint precision to destroy a tumor without damaging tissue around it.
Henry’s liver responded; the lesion disappeared.
”Henry is a walking miracle!” Dr. Davis said. “At this point, he’s a long-term survivor of stage IV gastric cancer which is exceedingly, exceedingly rare.”
Henry has been such a memorable patient that Dr. Davis keeps a framed picture of the two of them together.
“The picture means more to me than any of my diplomas, certificates or awards,” Dr. Davis said. “It’s on my bookshelf in my house — the picture of me and Henry.”
Henry believes Dr. Davis served up gold-star treatment.
“I know he was always looking out for me behind the scenes,” Henry said. “He feels like family.”
Dr. Davis says his team is acutely aware that they are helping patients in what can be the most difficult fight of their lives.
“We are all there with them. We have an emotional connection with our patients,” Dr. Davis said. “We are all there backing them up and doing our best. We really do feel that cancer is our fight, too,” Dr. Davis said.
With new technology, focused treatment and a better understanding of cancer in general, Dr. Davis says more people are surviving cancer than ever before.
“My hope is that every single person we see is someone who is going to beat the odds.”
Just like Henry has.