Mary's fight: One woman's battle against cancer

DETROIT - Each year, more than one and a half million Americans are diagnosed with cancer. It's a devastating diagnosis that affects the whole family

We all know someone who's battled cancer and perhaps you've wondered:  How would I respond if it happened to me? Doctors say Mary Adzigian is a shining example of battling cancer with hope, determination, and relentless care. Mary is a wife, a mother, and an active member of the Grosse Pointe theatre. Her most inspiring role may be cancer fighter.

Five years ago, Mary was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. It had already spread to her liver. Mary wasn't interested in hearing the odds of her surviving. Doctors did tell her husband Don.  Mary and Don went to the Karmanos Cancer Institute where doctors gave them hope.  

"We work in what we call a multidisciplinary team which involves multiple specialists, medical oncologists, radiologists, pathologists, surgeon, radiation oncologist, we get together and we meet and we discuss a patient and we design the  treatment for that patient."

Mary has endured three, six month rounds of chemotherapy, several major surgeries including a thoracotomy and bowel resection. She's had multiple cutting edge treatments to kill and remove the cancerous portions of her liver. She still needs radiation to treat tumors in her lungs.

"My surgeon at one point said, explained, this is really, we're pushing the limits on the surgery that we have planned for you.  It is like when you stretch a rubber band, you know, it can break."

Mary didn't break.  She bounced back again and again. Karmanos doctor Philip A. Philip says Mary's positive attitude has been a key factor in her survival.

Mary isn't unrealistic about her illness, but she says she's always felt positive and that's not going to change now. She has asked all of her friends to "picture her old". Mary is just one of the many, many patients who have benefited from the advances at the Karmanos Cancer Institute.

One of the big events that helps fund cancer innovations is the Karmanos Cancer Institute's 31st Annual Dinner. That event will be held Saturday night. General Motors is a major sponsor of the event.

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