Cancer patient fights disease with superhero attitude

She arrives for chemo treatments wearing costumes and bearing gifts

Wonder Woman cancer patient and nurse hug

It’s not every day that you see a superhero walking into the Sanford Roger Maris Cancer Center in Fargo, North Dakota. But on the days she has chemotherapy treatments, Wonder Woman — I mean, Cami Sagvold — arrives in style.

“The first thing I thought about was dressing up as something, someone fun and powerful and strong, and Wonder Woman popped into my head because when I was a kid, I wanted to be Wonder Woman,” Sagvold said.

“My mom and I sat at the kitchen table and we cut out some stars with cardboard and wrapped them up with tin foil, and I got an old red belt of hers and we hot glued it on and I made a hat and tied a bunch of ribbons to the hat. I just thought I was really something. When I got cancer, I was like, it’s time to call her up. She’s coming off the bench for this.”

Find a location: Cancer care at Sanford Health

Sagvold was diagnosed with Stage 2A breast cancer on Jan. 11, and is at Sanford on this day for her fifth of eight chemo appointments. She has eight different costumes, one for each treatment. And when she arrives at the infusion center, she brings gifts for the Sanford staff, as well as other breast cancer patients.

Turning the tables

“It takes a day that you normally would not look forward to, and it makes it a lot more tolerable and manageable,” said Sagvold. “When you give to other people and you see the smiles on their faces and the fact that you made their day better, you rise. You rise with those people and it just makes it so much easier to do it.”

Sagvold’s oncologist, Dr. Anu Gaba, says that all cancer patients react differently when they are diagnosed, and that it’s OK to feel positive, negative or neutral about their own situations. But even she admits that the way Sagvold handles her disease is special.

“It’s not common to have cancer patients reach out to other cancer patients or to the staff,” said Dr. Gaba. “It’s usually the reverse, right? We as caregivers, we … are always there to support our cancer patients. It’s an unusual patient that turns the tables and does it the other way around where she’s supporting our nurses in the infusion center or her caregivers in the clinic. And I’m sure she’s helping the people who are caring for her at home too. It is unusual, but pleasantly unusual.”

The future looks super

Sagvold herself says that her treatment thus far has been easier than she expected. She’s looking forward to being done with chemo in mid-May. After that she’ll have surgery, followed by six weeks of radiation.

“She still has other aspects of her treatment left, but I think she’ll have a very good outcome,” said Dr. Gaba. “And I expect her to be the super woman that she wants to be.”

Based on her treatment and the stage of her cancer, Sagvold has better than a 90% chance of beating her disease, which is super. This hero credits her doctors and advancements in cancer treatment. But everyone who sees her at the infusion center can just tell: Wonder Woman is going to fight her latest foe.

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Posted In Cancer, Cancer Treatments, Fargo, Imaging

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