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May 1, 2017

May is National Cancer Research Month! Karla’s Story

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Did you know May is National Cancer Research Month? Keep reading to learn more about how an associate from Village Super Market, part of the ShopRite family of independently operated and owned grocery stores, persevered through her battle with cancer and how you can get involved in contributing to a great cause.

Karla Gilman woke up at New York-Presbyterian Hospital with no memory of the prior 2 weeks following a sudden, and severe respiratory failure.

For Karla, it was just like being under anesthesia. For all those attempting to save her life, it was a miraculous experience.

“I have no recollection of the event itself – I don’t remember not being able breathe,” says Karla. “I was diagnosed with Colorectal Cancer at the age of 37, four months after my wedding. My doctors suggested I had an ovarian transposition so to avoid the side effects of early menopause, before I started pelvic radiation treatment. It was an outpatient procedure but I went into respiratory failure in the recovery room.  The ventilator wasn’t enough to sustain my breathing so after my lungs collapsed they transferred me from Sloan Kettering Memorial Hospital to New York Presbyterian Hospital in a medically induced coma. And then a lot of incredibly fortunate things came together to allow me to tell my story today.”

Because of her dire condition, doctors connected Karla to an ECMO machine, a device that provides both cardiac and respiratory support to critically ill patients whose heart and lungs are unable to provide an adequate amount of gas exchange to sustain life. The ECMO allowed Karla’s organs to recover.

“People have since asked me repeatedly, ‘It must have been overwhelming and scary?!’ It certainly was for my husband and my friends. For them it was an hourly vigil.  But by the time I came out of it, there was a recovery plan in place, so I never felt as though I were dying.   My doctors and nurses did the real work, so it felt as though I were just along for the ride. In the end, the distinguishing factor between life and death for me was a group of people who did their jobs. It was nothing short of extraordinary. It’s not every day you get to thank people for saving your life.”

Her recovery was by no means complete when she left the hospital, however. She had lost thirty-seven pounds while on ECMO, and was extremely weak; she had no muscle movement and was unable to walk.  When she was released from a rehab facility two weeks later, her husband took charge of her care at home.

“I often joke and say the Gilman juice kept me alive after the ECMO brought me back to life, but it’s true.  We used our wedding money to buy an Omega Juicer, and my husband made me this fresh juice at least 2-3 times a week.  This juice kept my hemoglobin and platelets up during the year and a half of cancer treatment and surgeries that followed.”

Today, Karla is in remission.  While not at work making sure our associates and guests have a safe place to work and shop, she enjoys traveling the world with her husband.

THE GILMAN JUICE

Kale, Carrots, Celery, Cucumber, Apple & Beets

Available for a limited time at The Green Juice Bar at the ShopRite of Chester, the ShopRite of Greater Morristown and the ShopRite of Stirling

$1 from every sale will be donated to The Colon Cancer Alliance in honor of Karla’s fight against colorectal cancer.