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Published on March 06, 2012

Carl Ferguson, Patient at Valley West Community Hospital 

Carl Ferguson

Carl Ferguson

Carl Ferguson is a man who is dedicated to his community. For the past 10 years, he has worked for the Plano School District as the maintenance assistant, but to the students of Plano he has been more than that. Carl is a friendly face they can count on at school and someone who will go the extra mile even if it means donating his own time. For example, one of Carl’s main duties is the care and maintenance of the football and baseball fields. He uses painstaking detail when painting the stripes and end zones for the football games. Carl feels that when the kids put their hearts and souls into everything they do, how can you not put your heart and soul into something by doing the best you can for them? After all, it’s all about the kids.

Earlier this year, one of the elementary teachers had asked Carl for help setting up her train set for the upcoming holiday season. Unfortunately, it was found that the train had a faulty transformer and wouldn't work. Carl could see the disappointment in the eyes of the teacher and students and said, “Don’t worry. I’ll buy another train set.”

The teacher was surprised and asked, “Why would you do that?”

Carl’s answer was, “Why not. It’s all about the kids.”

Carl went out and bought a train set and along with the help of a friend, he built a display table and placed it in the learning center of the school so that all of the building’s classrooms could learn and enjoy the train.

The way that Carl is dedicated to the children of Plano is equal to the dedication that Valley West Community Hospital and Carl’s doctors have shown him during his fight with cancer. By most accounts, Carl Ferguson was a healthy 53-year-old man. He was lean, active and by outward appearances, physically fit, so it took a lot of prodding before his wife, Kris, was able to get him to go to the doctor for a general exam. When Carl finally went to see Dr. Martin Brauweiler, it took even more coaxing from the doctor for Carl to follow-up with a fecal test. But thanks to the persistence of Dr. Brauweiler, Carl did finally take the test and in July 2009, he was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer.

Carl worked with a team of doctors, surgeons and specialists to create a treatment plan. He had complete faith in the staff of Valley West Community Hospital and trusted they would help him fight for his life. After surgery and several rounds of chemotherapy, Carl was in remission as of May 2010.

Unfortunately, in March of 2011, Carl had a follow up CT scan which detected a small abnormality in his lung. The doctors soon found his cancer had spread to Carl’s liver, lungs and lymph nodes. The doctors quickly began chemotherapy treatments again and by May 2011, the cancer in his lungs and lymph nodes was no long visible in a CT scan. Currently, Carl is still undergoing treatment for the mass in his liver and as of January 2012, he had two rounds of chemotherapy left.

 

Protecting

Without the persistence of Dr. Brauweiler, Carl Ferguson would have ignored the doctor’s advice to take a fecal test.

“Dr. Brauweiler told me at my check up that I needed to take a fecal test, but I really didn’t want to have it done. He called me a few weeks later to make sure I was going to take that test. If he hadn’t called who knows when they would have found the cancer. I really had no symptoms so if Dr. Brauweiler hadn’t followed through I’m scared to think what would have happened,” Carl said.

“A lot of doctors might have just let it go and just figured since they told him to get the test that he would. But Dr. Brauweiler was persistent until he knew Carl went and took the test,” said Kris.

“I really believed my doctors were people I could rely on. They were so compassionate, it almost felt like they were going through it with me,” Carl said.

 

Healing

“When Dr. Brauweiler called me with the news that my test came back and it was cancer, I was very upset, but Dr. Brauweiler said to me, ‘Carl, I said you have cancer. I didn't say you were dying.’ You know, a lot of people feel like cancer is a death sentence, but it’s not,” said Carl.

Carl said, “At one point, I mentioned to Dr. Brauweiler that I was going to look into another hospital for my surgery, and Dr. Brauweiler said, ‘Carl, why do you want to go all the way up there? Valley West has everything that they have and it’s right here in Sandwich.’ He was right and I couldn't have been more pleased by the care I received.”

Prior to his surgery to remove the colon cancer, Carl saw Dr. David Faulk for a colonoscopy.

“I really like Dr. Faulk. He was very nice and made me feel comfortable and relaxed for a procedure I wasn't looking forward to,” Carl said.

“After my surgery was some of the darkest days of my life, but Dr. Richard Mason, who performed Carl’s surgery, was such a nice guy and his bedside manner was second to none that I started to feel hope,” said Carl.

“I liked the fact that the nurses at the hospital weren't stretched so thin. My daughter’s actually a nurse at another hospital and they run their staff so bare boned that I feel sorry for those nurses,” Kris said.

 

Educating

“Dr. Brauweiler doesn't sugar coat anything. I wanted to know all of the details and he was honest with us,” said Kris.

“But at the same time, I didn't want to know all the ‘what if’s’ because I was afraid if knew everything that could go wrong, that would diminish my hope. And what I needed was hope. I felt like Dr. Brauweiler told me what I needed to know,” said Carl.

“During Carl’s surgery, the nurses were very good about coming out and giving me updates. After the surgery, Dr. Mason came out and explained how the procedure went,” said Kris.

Carl said, “When I first started chemotherapy, I was totally blind to cancer. I just thought it was a death sentence. At one of my appointments, the nurse gave me a book on metastatic colon cancer. And I didn't know why she was giving me that book. She said it was because I was Stage 3. Heck, I didn't know what State 3 meant, but she explained it to me and that the cancer could possibly spread. That was important to know so that anytime I saw warning signs or didn't feel quite right I needed to call my doctor as soon as possible so if there was any new cancer we could catch it right away.”

“After all of this cancer business started the kids at the high school sold bracelets to help raise funds for my medical expenses. I wanted to give back to those kids so I founded the Pay It Forward Scholarship Fund to help out kids who want to continue their education after high school. This will be the third year we have given out the scholarship and Dr. Brauweiler and Dr. Mason are both contributors,” said Carl.

Since his colon cancer diagnosis, Carl has been forever grateful for the love and support he has received from the community of Plano, the students and staff at the Plano High School and Middle School. To show his appreciation he created the “Carl Ferguson Pay It Forward Humanitarian Scholarship Fund, which is designed to give money back to students who continually do service for others, and wish to do community service in the future. In addition, he also thanks Dr. Brauweiler, Dr. Mason, Dr. Laurie Walker, Plano Area Chamber of Commerce, and the generous contributions of Plano businesses and the Plano community for helping to make the scholarship possible.

 

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