Giselle Rutherford, 59, of Clarksville, Tennessee, has always looked at life as a celebration. A caterer by trade, Giselle enjoys celebrations of any kind – from weddings and birthdays to graduations and Christmas parties. Practicing the art of fruit sculpture always made her feel like an integral part of the festivities.
Now in the midst of lung cancer treatments, she is in a hurry to feel like herself again, so she can live her life to the fullest.
“I was always strong before this, but this cancer has taken all the strength out of me,” she said. “When I’m alone now and feeling low from my chemotherapy, I just lie here and can’t think about doing much of anything else. It’s very hard, sometimes.”
Gisele pines to keep her home as spotless as she has in the past, but the fatigue and pain from her cancer has taken her off her game plan lately. “I come from a family with six kids, so I was last one to go to work,” she said. “I wanted to be there for my folks and brothers and sisters and stay well for them. I was keeping diabetes at bay, my cholesterol was good. I was eating better, acting better, and doing better. Then this cancer hit me, and I wondered what I did to deserve this. Oh, that’s right: I smoked for 30 years!”
She first noticed shortness of breath, a year before she finally went to the doctor. Even then, she waited until it was an emergency.
She started having deep pains in her arm, back, and breast, so her son drove her into Nashville, thinking she might be having a heart attack. As it happened, it wasn’t her heart at all. She was eventually diagnosed with stage III lung cancer in June. The doctors removed part of her left lung, and immediately afterwards she was put on chemotherapy. She has one more round to go the day after Christmas, then the doctors will do a scan, to see if they’ve been able to keep the cancer at bay.
She’s staying optimistic about her chances of a full recovery, because once she’s beat the cancer, she just wants to live and “do the things I should have done, when I was younger,” she said. Her son is now in college in Portland, Oregon, and she also wants to be sure she’s around to attend his graduation. “He came through things he never thought he could get through, too,” she said. “Now he’s so happy. He says I’m the reason for it, because he didn’t know how strong he was until he had to be.”
“I also want to show my grandbabies it’s never too late,” she continued. “Maybe I could open a restaurant, like my family had when I was young, or maybe I’ll be like my son and finally go to college. All I know is I never want to get cancer another time. I don’t want to have to beat it again. I want this to be my one and only time!”
Another thing she’s sure about, when she’s finished with chemo, she’s going to do some amazing fruit carvings for her oncologist’s office.
“They’ve all given me another chance to live the life I was meant to live.”
“I want to give back a little something to them for helping me beat this.”
She’ll surely make a celebration of it.