Cancer Survivor Chase Gilleland’s Inspiring Story
“I could see him talking, but I couldn’t really hear him,”
said Chase Gilleland, 25 of Sherrills Ford on being told by a doctor that
he had cancer two years ago. “I just couldn’t accept it. Despite
feeling as if a weight had been placed on my chest, I decided to try and
keep a positive outlook throughout the process.”
That “process” started when Chase noticed a mass on his temple.
He thought it was just some swelling related to TMJ in his jaw. However,
in July 2015, he went to an urologist after seeing blood in his urine.
That’s when the doctor told him he had a form of lymphoma, a blood
cancer. Soon afterward, a doctor at Duke University told Chase that he
had stage IV Non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Stage IV meant that the cancer had
spread throughout his body.
“People don’t realize how loved they are until something like
this happens,” says CVMC cancer nurse navigator Susan Knowles. “Chase’s
positive attitude not only inspired his large group of friends and family,
but the nursing staff fell in love with him too.”
Case in point – when Chase’s coworkers at the Ethan Allen furniture
factory in Maiden found out he had cancer, they immediately sprung into
action to help him. One of his coworkers began selling shirts sporting
the slogan “Team Chase”. At the two plants where Chase had
worked for over three years, coworkers posed for group pictures with the
shirts. Then his coworkers created bracelets and koozies with the slogan
on them. They also created events and a Gofundme account to help offset
costs for his treatments during a time when he could no longer work.
Chase’s coworkers’ support has not only been monetary. When
he had inpatient chemotherapy treatment at CVMC, he had to have a special
room in order to accommodate all of his visitors. Plus, many sent him
encouraging social media posts when he had to move to Raleigh for over
a month for radiation and a stem cell transplant at Duke University.
Following his return home in February 2015, Chase spent the majority of
2016 recuperating to allow his compromised immune system to strengthen.
During that time, he continued oncology visits at Carolina Oncology in
Hickory where he met and fell in love with Shelby Lunn, a phlebotomist.
Together they attend CVMC’s Cancer Warriors support group meetings
where Chase frequently speaks to those newly diagnosed with cancer about
the power of having a positive mindset. He finds that openly sharing his
personal journey with cancer encourages many who are just beginning the
trials and tribulations it brings.
“Even though I’ve now been declared cancer free and have been
able to return to work part time at Ethan Allen, I owe my strong determination
and focus on overcoming such huge obstacles to the numerous prayers and
outpouring of positive messages I’ve received over the past two
years,” Chase says. “But, as I return to work, I just want
everyone to keep praying for the ones who are still battling this horrible
disease. Pray for strength, pray for the doctors and just pray that all
cancer will be taken away!”
Find out more about the Cancer Warriors Support Group: For Patients Newly
Diagnosed with Cancer. It meets the first Tuesday of every month at 6:30pm
in the conference room in the main lobby at CVMC. Please call 828.326.6065 or email
Cancer Support Group for more information.