December 21, 2018
Cancer is tough. It’s the news nobody wants to get – not for themselves or for their loved ones. That is exactly what happened to Calli Ellison in June when her husband, “Big Don,” a Dallas resident now living in Rose Bud, Arkansas, was diagnosed with colon cancer. But strong faith and a positive outlook – along with excellent care from their CARTI team in Little Rock – are helping Calli and Don overcome the challenges of cancer and inspire others along the way.
“There were a few days I broke down. But this is what we had in our lives,” Calli said. “There was only one way to fix it, and that was to do the chemo and radiation. It’s not easy, but luckily we have had huge support from all our family and our race friends! We have been beyond blessed for everyone! I will say we, even on our bad days, we always had something to be thankful for and being positive helped us both a lot.”
Don and Calli are counting on that inner strength to continue seeing them through the rest of his cancer journey. As of this writing, Don has completed three rounds of chemotherapy and 28 days of radiation. Next up? Another round of chemo, then surgery followed by eight more rounds of chemo. This husband-and-wife team is quick to sing the praises of their CARTI care – including Medical Oncologist, Dr. Balan Nair, and Radiation Oncologist, Dr. Matthew Hardee, along with many outstanding nurses.
“He absolutely loves all the people we have had,” Calli said. “We love everything about CARTI, and not just the nurses and doctors. Everyone from the valet parker to all the office people. They all make you feel like you’re at home during this experience. We get to see them and actually grow a relationship with them since we spend hours during chemo treatment. They have been truly amazing!”
Some people wonder how the couple can take on cancer with such a positive outlook. They smile. They laugh. And they seem to look for – and find – the good in every single day.
“I think the biggest part of this is to stay mentally positive,” Calli said. “Our team at CARTI was beyond amazing and they are the best at what they do. The one thing you can do for yourself is to have that positive attitude and put your faith in front of your fear! I would say you need to have a relationship with God. With this horrible thing you are experiencing, He will be the only thing that will get you and your loved one through anything.”
Although Don is still in the midst of the fight, he and Calli keep their eyes on the end goal. For patients and their families just starting the cancer journey, Calli had some parting encouragement to share: “Y’all will get through this! It is beyond overwhelming when you are first diagnosed, but always think positive and know there will be an end. Pray hard and fight harder!”