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Having received a lupus and rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis at the young age of 16, Michelle Usher was no stranger to doctor visits and medical tests. When she started to feel increasingly fatigued and exhausted towards the end of 2022, she did not think anything of it, until a routine blood test indicated she was anemic. Michelle’s primary care doctor recommended she undergo testing to figure out why and referred her to a gastroenterologist.

When a colonoscopy revealed Michelle had stage 2 colon cancer, she was understandably discouraged. “I’ve been through so much health wise,” she says, “so finding out I had cancer on top of everything else was very difficult.”

Michelle was immediately referred by the doctor who performed the colonoscopy to Huntington Health, an affiliate of Cedars-Sinai, colorectal surgeon Juliane Golan, MD, for cancer care. Dr. Golan performed a procedure here to remove the cancerous section of her colon. The surgery was successful and confirmed that the cancer had not spread. Michelle was able to go home the next day to start the recovery process.

“Patients like Michelle benefit from Huntington Cancer Center’s renowned and trusted physicians who deliver excellent care to help them fight cancer — from diagnosis to treatment and recovery,” says Howard Kaufman, MD, regional medical director, Huntington Cancer Center and medical director, surgical services, Huntington Health. “Our high-quality cancer and colorectal surgery program offer comprehensive and compassionate care focused on saving lives and improving quality of life.”

While resting at home, Michelle read books about other people’s journeys with cancer as a source of comfort and inspiration. When it was determined that she would not need chemotherapy or radiation, she was relieved. “I had started to look for headscarves online in case I was going to lose my hair,” says Michelle. “I was very happy that I didn’t have to go through that, and that surgery was all I needed.” Today, Michelle is cancer free and back to her regular routine and diet. “I can paint, draw, read and go to church again because I have my energy back.”

Dr Juliane Golan and patient Michelle Usher
Dr. Juliane Golan with patient, Michelle Usher

Michelle is grateful to her care team for helping shift her perceptive and attitude. “Dr. Golan encouraged me to be positive,” she says. “She explained things to me in a way I could understand. She has a kind spirit and a good bedside manner. If she wasn’t my doctor, I would want her to be my friend.” Michelle also felt immense support from Huntington Cancer Center, an affiliate of Cedars-Sinai Cancer, nurse navigator Saskia Koomen, RN. Michelle notes that Saskia was very responsive to all her questions about what to expect during recovery, like what foods to eat. “Saskia checked in on me a lot to make sure I was OK and had everything I needed to recover,” says Michelle.

When reflecting on her time as a patient at Huntington Hospital, Michelle feels like the care she received was top notch. “It didn’t feel like a hospital and I’m so thankful for receiving such great and gentle care.” Her treatment experience here has given her a different outlook on life. “Now, I live more in the moment and let the small stuff go more easily than I used to,” she says. Gaining this new outlook has also brought hope and excitement to her life: Michelle recently got engaged and is getting married next month.

“I didn’t give up and now have this amazing next chapter in my life to look forward to and celebrate,” says Michelle. “My care team at Huntington gave me that. It is the best wedding gift, and I will cherish it always.”

Learn more about colorectal surgery at Huntington Health and Huntington Cancer Center, an affiliate of Cedars-Sinai Cancer.

If you are grateful for the care you received at our hospital and would like to share your experience, please send us your story.