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Resilient New Orleans Executive Tackles Colon Cancer

Network - Spring 2011

By Mary Brolley

Been putting off that colonoscopy? 

Angele Romig would like a word with you.

“Do it. Get it over with. Move forward,” the New Orleans native says with characteristic directness. 

“You blink, and it’s over.”

In January 2007, Romig woke from her first colonoscopy to learn there was a large tumor in her colon. She was just 44.

Diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer, she had surgery to remove tumors in her colon and liver, followed by chemotherapy.

She’d had symptoms of gastrointestinal distress for a while, but chalked them up to the stress of her challenging job, raising three children and life in general. After other tests turned up nothing, her physician suggested a colonoscopy.

Since her diagnosis in 2007, she’s had three major surgeries and 20 rounds of chemotherapy. And at one point, daily shots administered by her husband Greg that, she jokes, “added a new dimension to our relationship.”

'There's a little Forrest Gump in me'

Initially treated at a hospital in New Orleans, she came to MD Anderson when she was diagnosed with tumors in her lungs in 2009.

She credits Greg, her children and family with having been with her every step of the way. Greg took over appointment scheduling and ran interference so that his very social wife wouldn’t get too tired by well-meaning callers and visitors during treatment.

Through it all, Romig kept working — as she has for 24 years — as the chief administrative officer at GCR Associates, a well-respected New Orleans consulting company.

It’s clear that humor plays a large role in Romig’s resilience and strength.

She makes light of the surgeries that have taken her uterus, gallbladder, parts of her lungs, colon and liver, saying, "I have the fewest organs of anyone I know.”

She deadpans that it’s been her lifelong goal “to be the centerfold in an MD Anderson magazine.”

And she confides that despite the difficulties she’s faced, “I have a little Forrest Gump in me.”

Move forward. Be optimistic.

Although no one would choose to get cancer, Romig has weathered this health crisis with good humor and common sense.

“In hindsight, it’s hard to believe it’s been four years now,” she says. “While you’re in the moment, it seems overwhelming.

“I’ve had setbacks, but every time I took two steps back, it’s propelled me forward.

“Cancer treatment became a part of my life. I thought of it as if I were enrolling in medical school.”

To newly diagnosed patients, her advice is simple.

“Set a schedule and follow it. As you complete parts of your treatment, celebrate. It marks you on the path to recovery.”

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center