In 2015, Illinois resident Terry Bradshaw realized something was wrong with his health. He was experiencing bowel obstruction and abdominal pain, so he went to see a doctor. Tests revealed a startling reality—a tumor in his large intestine.
Bradshaw had an initial surgery and underwent chemotherapy, but the cancer returned. Because of the magnitude of the recurrence, it became clear he needed additional surgery at a tertiary care hospital. He was referred to SLUCare colorectal surgeon Dr. Grace Montenegro, vascular surgeon Dr. Michael Williams and urologic surgeon Dr. Lindsay Lombardo. The idea of a major operation was understandably daunting to Bradshaw, but the team quickly put him at ease.
“Bedside manner is important in a doctor, but you also want someone who is smart and confident,” says Bradshaw, 63. “When I met my surgeons, I could tell right away that they knew what they were doing. They said, ‘Trust us, we can handle this, and we’ll take good care of you.’ And they did.” He spent more than 10 hours on the operating table at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital, and the tumor—an adenocarcinoma—was removed successfully along with a small part of his colon. The surgeons also repaired problems with a leg vein and one of his ureters.
“They were amazing,” Bradshaw says of the SLUCare team. “When I first learned I needed surgery, I understood something had to be done about the cancer, but I still felt apprehensive. After meeting with my surgeons, I felt much more comfortable.”
Montenegro says Bradshaw was highly motivated to beat his cancer and followed all of the instructions he was given to maximize his chances of success. “When we first met Terry, the initial chemotherapy had caused him to lose his appetite,” she says. “I told him he would need to gain weight before we could operate, and to think of his food as medicine that would help him be healthier.” The team worked closely with Bradshaw’s oncologist in Illinois to make sure he understood why good nutrition was important. When Bradshaw returned for surgery, he was like a different man, Montenegro says. “He looked much better, and we were able to go ahead with the procedure,” she notes.
Today, Bradshaw is healing well and undergoing more chemotherapy. His doctors are monitoring his progress and feel positive about his recovery. Montenegro says he didn’t have many common postoperative issues like swelling, which has made the process easier. SLUCare Physician Group has highly specialized providers who take a multidisciplinary approach to high-quality care, giving patients like Bradshaw access to the latest innovations in medicine.
Bradshaw says some of his relatives and friends were inspired to have colonoscopies after hearing about his cancer, and his brother’s tests identified intestinal polyps that needed to be removed. “His doctor said he could have ended up in the same boat I did if the problem hadn’t been caught early,” Bradshaw says.
He adds, “Things are progressing well for me. I’ve come a long way, and I’m feeling positive about the future. I have my SLUCare team to thank for that.”
Pictured: Colorectal surgeon Dr. Grace Montenegro in the operating room
Photo courtesy of SLUCare Physician Group
SLUCare Physician Group provides comprehensive and compassionate care for cancer patients. Pictured on the cover: Colorectal surgeon Dr. Grace Montenegro. For more information, call 314.977.6125 or visit slucare.edu.
Cover design by Allie Bronsky | Cover photo by Tim Parker Photography