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Woman fighting cancer wants treatment center in Rockdale

Sheri Rogers started an one-woman campaign to bring a proposed cancer treatment center to Rockdale County after hearing news accounts of the project. She based her effort on her own experience fighting a rare form of ovarian cancer. Rogers said she also is working to form an ovarian cancer support group at Rockdale Medical Center. 

Sheri Rogers started an one-woman campaign to bring a proposed cancer treatment center to Rockdale County after hearing news accounts of the project. She based her effort on her own experience fighting a rare form of ovarian cancer. Rogers said she also is working to form an ovarian cancer support group at Rockdale Medical Center. 

CONYERS -- As Sheri Rogers continues her own battle against cancer, she has stepped forward to become the lead advocate for others and to have a cancer specialist center built in Rockdale County.

Rogers said her experience of dealing with the disease since 2006 and working with physicians, specialists and health insurance has given her an education on how difficult it is for cancer patients to get access to treatment they need.

Rogers said she sees people in her surgeon's waiting room at Emory University who travel from Alabama. She said the demand for her surgeon has grown to where wait times can go an hour or longer.

Rogers believes a cancer treatment center on Interstate 20 can solve a lot of problems, making services more accessible to people from all corners of the Southeast.

"This would benefit so many people to have this cancer center here in Rockdale because we're two and a half hours from Tennessee, we're two hours from Alabama, two hours from South Carolina and about five hours from Florida," she said. "We're right in the heart as easy traveling for everybody. Do you understand why I want it here? Not only to help me, but to also help others around the Southeast."

Rogers said she starting making telephone calls to media outlets and elected officials since she heard about the potential bid by Rockdale County to have the $200 million treatment built center here. The center is being proposed as a partnership between Emory Healthcare and California-based Advanced Particle Therapy. The facility is proposed to open in 2015, according to news reports.

The Development Authority of Rockdale County discussed a possible bid last week to convince Emory Healthcare officials to locate the center on a site off Interstate 20 between Sigman Road and the DeKalb County line.

Rogers, 42, described her cancer as unique in that it has not behaved as other diagnosed cancer cases. She was without health insurance when the cancer was discovered following a visit to a free health clinic in January 2006.

The clinic doctor did an ultrasound on Rogers and discovered a cyst on her right ovary. She was sent to Rockdale Medical Center for more tests. A CAT scan and biopsy there confirmed the cyst was cancerous.

The cancer grew quickly and by July of that year, Rogers required surgery to remove the cyst that had grown to 11.5 pounds and was threatening her life.

Since then, Rogers said she has undergone several treatments, a blood transfusion, and three bouts of the cancer where it had spread to her stomach, liver and intestines.

Treatment has been successful in those instances, but Rogers said doctors explained to her that she has a rare form of cancer that is aggressive and difficult to manage through traditional treatments. The cancer has reappeared in her stomach and intestines.

"And what it does, is that it doesn't like to behave," she said. "It doesn't like stages. It acts like stage 4 when you get to stage 1."

She finished chemotherapy recently, but the cancer remains and she is looking for new treatments with the help of her doctors and pharmacists.

In the meantime, Rogers is forming an Ovarian Cancer Support Group at RMC. The first meeting will be an open house from 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 20, in classroom 1 of RMC's East Tower.

"This is something I want to do to help others," she said. "I also think that the cancer treatment center would be a huge difference here. It would bring a lot of people here to Rockdale County because it is needed."