Cervical Cancer Survivor Celebrates 16 Years Cancer-Free
When Ochsner patient Kerry Blum went in for her routine Pap smear in 2005, she was in shock when she saw her diagnosis: She had cervical cancer.
“I had no symptoms, no current medical problems at the time and was just living my normal married, mom of two small children and working in the medical field life. To this day, I remember the initial moments when I left my gynecologist’s office; I pulled out of the parking garage, crossed the street to head home and stopped in the median and put my car in park, and just cried tremendously. My first thought was, what about my children and all the moments of their lives I could possibly miss and how they would possibly grow up without their mom? Second, how do I go home and share this news with my family? My children were young at the time, 10 and 4 years old.”
Kerry was quickly referred to Dr. Richard C. Kline, a gynecologic oncologist at Ochsner Medical Center – New Orleans. Kerry says Dr. Kline helped to ease her worries and anxieties. “He always remained calm and very informative. He answered all of my questions, even more than once.” Dr. Kline decided surgery would be needed. Kerry had pre-op testing the days leading up to her surgery, but everything was quickly turned upside down with the impending arrival of Hurricane Katrina.
“I remember getting home after an MRI before surgery and laying on the living room floor not feeling too well when I received a phone call asking if we were leaving? I said, ‘leaving? To go where?’ Hurricane Katrina was on her way, and I was so wrapped up in this cancer situation I wasn’t even aware of it.”
Like all Louisianians living on the Gulf Coast, Kerry and her family had to evacuate for Hurricane Katrina, meaning her surgery would be postponed. She and her family evacuated to Victoria, Texas. After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and the Gulf South, getting in touch with anyone was nearly impossible. But Kerry and Dr. Kline were able to connect, and he urged her to get home as soon as she could so her surgery could be performed.
On Oct. 10, 2005, Kerry was able to have her surgery. Kerry says, “ALL of the staff at Ochsner were beyond wonderful. With everything going on, all the stress from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina AND patients of all types, I never had one bad experience with anyone.”
“After my release, I recovered on an air mattress and started putting life back together just like everyone else in Louisiana had to do. I kept up with my follow-up appointments with Dr. Kline. We had a small hiccup in 2009, which resulted in another surgery, but eventually, I finally graduated to annual checkups.”
Speed up to 2021, and Kerry is approaching 16 years this October of no cancer! And she still sees Dr. Kline every summer at the Gayle and Tom Benson Cancer Center. “Dr. Kline is my HERO; he always explains everything so detailed and calmly. He listens, has compassion. I have never told Dr. Kline how much he means to me and how grateful I am that HE was chosen that day I received the worst news I’ve ever received to be my Physician who I would put my trust and my life in his hands to do what he does best.”
With the support of Dr. Kline, Kerry also started her health and wellness journey to lose weight and get in shape to be a strong, healthy mom. That journey led her to fitness and bodybuilding, and along the way, she has met other cancer warriors and their family members who were their caretakers. Kerry decided she wanted to be a personal trainer and help others be the best version of their healthy, and she is in school to reach her master trainer certification.
“The main reason I agreed to share this is because every year I get a little nervous about visiting Dr. Kline, and every year he gives me the BEST news a doctor can give…. ‘all clear see you next year!’ You see, back in 2005, I was praying for 16 minutes. 16 hours. 16 days just to be with my children. Dr. Kline helped give me the last 16 years. Thank you is NOT enough, but THANK YOU, DR. RICHARD C. KLINE, MY HERO, and thank you to all of the staff at The Gayle & Tom Benson Cancer Center and Ochsner Medical Center.”
To learn more about cancer screenings at Ochsner, visit https://www.ochsner.org/services/cancer-care/cancer-screenings.