Cathy Wingert didn’t expect to live this long. Six months after treatment for colon cancer, the disease had metastasized, and her doctor told her there really weren’t many options beyond palliative care.
“It was very grim news, and it seemed like the end of the road,” Wingert says.
But then her family reminded her of the promise she’d made to get a second opinion if she received a terminal prognosis.
Wingert contacted the UW Carbone Cancer Center and met with Dr. Dusty Deming, a medical oncologist, cancer researcher and colorectal cancer survivor.
She was impressed with his empathy, focus on quality of life and his laboratory research aimed at improving treatment of colorectal cancer.
Wingert transferred her care to Deming, who used DNA testing to help determine the best course of treatment to help her gain some time and a satisfactory quality of life.
She’s now starting her 5th year of chemotherapy. She receives chemotherapy every other week and plans to continue until “I tell Dr. Deming I’m done or he tells me the drugs aren’t working anymore. Fortunately, we haven’t had that conversation yet.”
Wingert has learned a lot about colon cancer since meeting Deming and is grateful for all that he has been able to do for her and for the work he does in the laboratory to advance treatment. “I know I’ve benefited from his previous research, and I’m really excited about his research on using immunotherapy for colon and pancreatic cancers,” Wingert says.
She has become a patient advocate and has donated generously to the Deming Lab with living benefits from her life insurance policy. She has also volunteered for several fundraisers.
Last year, she volunteered for The Ride, a bicycle fundraiser for cancer research at the University of Wisconsin.
“When I read about The Ride I thought it’s not just about my cancer, it’s about cancer more broadly. I wanted to help make this a successful event, and as a patient I just needed to be among the Carbone Cancer Center staff to thank them for what they’re doing,” Wingert says.
Wingert plans to volunteer for The Ride again this year on Sept. 17. In the meantime, she will continue her treatments.
“Chemo takes its toll physically and emotionally,” Wingert says. “There are days when I think I can’t do this another year, but I’m driven by the progress that UW researchers like Dusty are making. Helping to raise money for this work gives my life meaning. And it gives me such a warm feeling when I see all the people from the Carbone Center working hard to raise money for cancer research. Even outside the clinic, these people are fighting this disease, so why shouldn’t I?”