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Breast cancer survivor beating the odds

STACY M. BROWN | 3/30/2015, 8:26 a.m.
Alisha Gibson was told nothing was wrong. Her primary care doctor had twice prescribed antibiotics after she complained of some ...
Alisha Gibson has battled stage 4 breast cancer for more than four years. NNPA

(NNPA) – Alisha Gibson was told nothing was wrong. Her primary care doctor had twice prescribed antibiotics after she complained of some soreness in the neck and shoulders.

After all, Alisha, 46, had always been active and athletic, so it wasn’t really any need for worry. But, by the time this educator and motivational speaker’s breast cancer was detected it had reached stage 4.

“I found out in October 2010 and I was more shocked because I didn’t think there was any reason for me to believe that I was sick,” Alisha said.

She and her husband, entertainment manager Norman Gibson who has worked with clients in the Northeast and the Southeast, both said they were shell-shocked and confused. As if the news of breast cancer wasn’t difficult enough, stage 4 counts as the most advanced and doctors had given the couple no hope at all.

“They told us that they recommended hospice care,” Norman said.

That meant that the medical professionals had themselves given up hope, Gibson was doomed.

However, a nurse at a hospital in Houston, gave the couple information that changed everything.

“There was one specialist who was sent from God,” Alisha said.

She visited and was treated by Dr. Khaled Jabboury, a medical oncologist affiliated with several hospitals and who has participated in numerous clinical research projects including new drug evaluations, drug modulation, and systemic and local hyperthermia.

“The first time I had chemotherapy it was for eight months and I was given three times the allotted amount,” Alisha said.

“The second time, it was for six months and I had eight weeks of radiation, a lumpectomy, a hysterectomy and it left me with bad eyesight.”

She said she dropped more than 100 pounds and the disease had taken its toll on her. “My lungs collapsed because the tumor was just that big and I was told that I flat lined at one point. I was gone,” she said.

But Norman said Jabboury’s professionalism and expertise along with he and his wife’s faith, has helped in stabilizing Alisha, who has beaten most odds in living with stage 4 breast cancer for so long a period.

“She’s made medical history,” Norman said. “When I tell you that God has his hands on her, He does because they told us that we may as well go to hospice.”

Officials at the American Cancer Society say that individuals with stage 4 breast cancer have a 22 percent rate of survival after five years compared to their peers without breast cancer. They said when breast cancer cells metastasize, or spread beyond the breast into other areas of the body, it’s referred to as stage 4.

For many women in the District, breast cancer continues to be a troubling reality. Reportedly, the mortality rate from breast cancer in D.C. is 40 percent higher than the national average. In addition, breast cancer incidence is 20 percent above national averages and Washington has the highest rate of late-stage diagnosis, when breast cancer is most difficult to treat.