Brenda Clements is a fighter.
She overcame a debilitating stroke in 2004 that affected her speech.
In October of 2015, she was hospitalized for 10 days when her pancreas flared up, causing severe abdominal pain. She was told the issue was diet related and was put on a fat-restricted diet.
In February of 2016, Brenda ate some chili that caused another episode with her pancreas. This time she went to the Emergency Department at OSF Saint Anthony’s Health Center. It was there that tumors on her pancreas and left lung were found.
“I found out it was cancer on Valentine’s Day,” the 53-year-old East Alton woman said.
She had a biopsy on her pancreas in March of 2016 at OSF Saint Anthony’s. A second biopsy was done later on her lung. The results came back as Stage 4 lung cancer and pancreatic cancer. It was then the 40-year smoker quit for good.
“At first, I just started to cry,” Brenda said. “Then I told myself, ‘No sense crying over it. What’s done is done. I’m going to go for the full treatment.’”
Brenda was referred to Dr. Wei Lin, board certified medical oncologist and hematologist with OSF Saint Anthony’s Physician Group. She began chemotherapy in April of 2016, with sessions continuing through the end of the year. It’s possible that Brenda will face more chemotherapy in 2017.
“I’ll do it if they say I need it,” she said. “They say I’ll live ‘not a normal life,’ but a longer life.”
"I’m determined to make it"
Through everything, Brenda has had the support of her husband, Ronnie, three children and two grandchildren.
She’s thankful for the care she’s received at OSF Saint Anthony’s.
“They’re all great at the Cancer Center of Excellence. I couldn’t get through any of this without them,” she said.
She also keeps in mind the slogan, “Riding through it.”
Brenda and her husband are avid motorcycle riders – although she hasn’t been able to ride much since the cancer diagnosis. Her friends got her a shirt that says, “Riding through it.”
“I’m riding through it,” Brenda said. “You just have to think positive. You can’t change it. You do what you got to do. I’m determined to make it.”