Volunteer Profile - Summer Trickey

Volunteer shares victory over cancer

Summer Trickey

Summer Trickey did everything by the book. With a history of both breast and colon cancer in her family, she made sure to stick to the aggressive schedule of cancer screenings recommended by her physician. That included colonoscopies every four years, a much more frequent rate than the recommendation of every 10 years for people age 50 and above who do not have risk factors like her.

A year away from her next scheduled colonoscopy, Trickey’s energy level plummeted. Blood work revealed anemia and the first physician she visited advised her to take iron supplements. Two months later, Trickey, then 47, made an unrelated visit to her gastroenterologist, David Gryboski, M.D., who took one look at her iron levels and ordered a colonoscopy.

“Weakness and fatigue is one of several symptoms of colorectal cancer,” said Dr. Gryboski, a member of the Piedmont Clinic. “Knowing her family history of colorectal cancer, I felt the best course of action was to get her in for a colonoscopy as soon as possible.”

A few days after the test, Trickey received the devastating news. She had Stage 3B colon cancer, meaning the cancer had broken through the walls of her colon and had entered some of her lymph nodes.

“It was very fast growing,” said Trickey, who underwent surgery and then an aggressive schedule of chemotherapy for eight months at Piedmont Fayette Hospital.

During her fight, Trickey received support from her husband and two fellow cancer patients who helped guide her through the process. Her friends both lost their fight with the disease – one right before Trickey finished her own treatment – but their support prompted her to help others.

“They were a big part of helping me through it so I wanted to help other people get through it, deal with it, understand it a little more, know they’re not the only one going through it,” she said.

Trickey first learned about Thomas F. Chapman Family Cancer Wellness at Piedmont Fayette Hospital when she joined a support group for colon cancer survivors. Trickey, her husband, another survivor and his wife now lead that same support group at the center, which offers free services and programs to anyone affected by cancer at any phase in his or her cancer journey, regardless of whether or not they are a Piedmont patient.

When Cancer Wellness expanded to Piedmont Newnan Hospital, thanks to a donation by former Equifax Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Chapman and his wife, Karen, Trickey decided to use the same knitting skills that kept her focused during her cancer treatment to lead a Knitting Circle group in Newnan.

“I think being a survivor kind of gives me a little more understanding of what people went through, what people are going through,” she said. “Sometimes you know the right question to ask. You know the right way to listen.”

Aside from volunteering there, Trickey and her husband made a financial gift to establish a library for other patients and survivors at Cancer Wellness at Piedmont Newnan. The Doreen Foxen Memorial Library is named after Trickey’s mother, who bravely fought cancer three separate times during her life.

Trickey is now a 5-year cancer survivor. She said people she meets at Cancer Wellness are sometimes shocked to learn she once went through the same struggle they are facing.

“That’s what I want them to see,” Trickey said. “I want them to see the smile and the life and that they can get through it, too. You can do it. You can persevere and beat it and come out on the other side strong and healthy and happy.”

As a not-for-profit entity, Piedmont relies on the generosity of donors in order to offer many free programs to the community. Cancer Wellness programs are funded totally by gifts and grants from individuals, corporations and foundations. For more information about Cancer Wellness at Piedmont or to make a donation to support the program, visit piedmont.org.