The Taylors are a most unique couple, unique in the fact that they both have had cancer, twice. Anne was the first to succumb with breast cancer in 1987. Back then there was no chemotherapy. The doctor did radical surgery and hoped for the best. Any type of cancer then was considered a death sentence. Luckily, Anne’s prognosis was the best. She stayed cancer free for 10 years.
Then in 1997, she discovered that she had Stage 4 cancer in the fluid around her lungs. It was inoperable, and it was terminal. She felt numb, and she never wants to see that “look” on Warren’s face again.
Anne doesn’t think she would be here without the American Cancer Society, whose research discovered things like stem cell transplantation.
“There are mama stem cells, daddy stem cells and baby stem cells. For a month and a half they harvested baby stem cells from my body while I was undergoing mild to moderate chemo. When they had collected enough, they put me through a very high dosage of chemo that took me to near death by killing all of the mama and daddy stem cells.”
The doctors then inject the baby stem cells, which are healthy cells, and isolate the patient for 21 days. The procedure worked on Anne and in 2002, she was one of the pioneers who traveled to Washington in support of stem cell research, proving a person can harvest one’s own stem cells.
Although during these trials Warren was working a night shift and didn’t get off until 11 p.m., he took Anne to Memphis three days a week to have her stem cells harvested. Her daughter, Tina, took her two days so that Warren could rest. Warren and Tina took care of her when she couldn’t take care of herself.
Anne has been cancer free for the second time twelve years, and all follow-ups have remained clear.
Just when it seemed the dust had settled, Warren was diagnosed with melanoma in 2000.
Warren said, “I wasn’t really worried about it. I figured if Anne had survived what she did, I would have no problem.” And he did alright. He made it.
Then the bombshell dropped in 2008 that he had lung cancer. To Warren this was “a whole ‘nother animal.” The whole family was worried and scared.
“None of my other brothers had had cancer, and they just knew it was a death sentence,” explains Warren.
He had to have lung surgery but was lucky enough to have had early detection and did not have to have chemotherapy.
His treatment did, however, zap him of all of his strength. Anne knew what this was like, and little by little over two months she helped him start walking from 20 feet a day to a normal walk. He says that’s an ordeal no one should ever have to go through.
Having been through so much, Warren and Anne both say life is sweeter and more appreciated. Anne said, “Now I can sit and watch a family of birds for hours and the stars at night are awesome. You’re not guaranteed tomorrow, so enjoy today.”
When asked who their heroes were through these most trying times, Anne said her husband and daughter, and the rest of her family–people you might expect. But she also said that Janice Pugh, who was a county nurse at the time, came to the house to give her shots she so desperately needed and Sandra Ealy, who worked with daughter Tina, became Tina’s rock. They are heroes, too. Warren answered emphatically, “Anne”!
And finally, when asked why they are participating in Relay For Life, Warren says it’s because he’s been there, and he wants people to know that cancer is not always a death sentence.
Anne says, “You know you’ve always heard everyone has a purpose in life. I honestly think God kept me around so I could tell people how important early detection is.”
Because of early detection, Warren has been cancer free for two years, and all follow ups have been good, proving the point.