Jeff's Colon Cancer Story

Jun 6, 2019

“Grateful” and “cancer” don’t seem to go together until you to talk with Jeff Woods. When the Turlock pastor discusses his fight with colon cancer, he has nothing but gratitude and praise for Emanuel Cancer Center, his fellow cancer fighters, his family, his friends and God.

“I’m grateful for my experience with cancer, I’ve been around it all my life, but was never touched by it directly. It opened a whole new world for me.”

Woods is the son of a Mayo Clinic surgeon who operated on cancer patients, among others. Woods’ grandfather died of prostate cancer, and Woods had ministered to many cancer patients. But it was all new on May 28, 2014, when doctors said, “You have stage 3 colon cancer.”

“One doctor gave me a 50/50 chance of survival,” Woods said. “Another advised surgery within three weeks to avoid an emergency operation.”

Woods had just begun to serve as co-pastor at First Christian Church. He had no health insurance. But a Christian foundation helped him land insurance just in time for surgery on June 26 at Emanuel Medical Center.

“I can’t say enough about the quality of care I received,” Woods says. “I’m a little spoiled by my father’s background at the Mayo Clinic, and I wondered if I would need to go to the Bay Area for treatment. But I stayed in Turlock, and I’m glad I did.”

After successful surgery, doctors prescribed six months of chemotherapy.

“Chemotherapy was a real head trip for me,” Woods says. “You can have a good week, and then two weeks later come away sick as a dog.”

But Woods found light during the dark days of chemotherapy.

“I met great staff and volunteers who gave so much of themselves,” he says. “And I was so moved by fellow patients who found the grace and courage to keep going.”

Woods was thinking of his fellow cancer fighters when staff invited him to ring the bell in the

lobby after his final treatment on January 23, 2015. The end-of- treatment bell has been rung many times since it was installed in May 2014 to celebrate a cancer survivor’s journey.

“At first, I wasn’t sure I wanted to ring it,” Woods says. “I don’t like counting chickens before they’re hatched. But that ringing bell was so encouraging for us cancer patients as we sat in our infusion chairs. It gave us hope.”

Woods rang the bell four times - by himself, with his wife, Diane, with pastor friends, and with fellow fighters, some still in treatment.

“Let’s ring it loud and long!” he said. And they did.

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