Colorectal Cancer Patient Finds Unwavering Support in Hannibal Regional Cancer Care


Vickie Clark of New London, Missouri, is a loving grandmother who enjoys virtual visits with her grandchildren located states away. The joy her grandchildren bring is the highlight of her days. She also enjoys spending time with her church family and her loving husband.

In the Fall of 2023, Vickie began noticing that she had lost weight and was just not looking or feeling like herself. Vickie’s husband, Keith Clark, was worried something was wrong and suggested that Vickie go in for the colonoscopy that she had been putting off for a while. With her sweet grandchildren and family in mind, Vickie and Keith traveled to Columbia, Missouri, where she had her colonoscopy. Following her colonoscopy and scans, Vickie was diagnosed with stage 3 colorectal cancer. The diagnosis was scary and upsetting; however, Vickie and Keith have faced cancer challenges before. Keith is a prostate cancer survivor. He underwent treatment at Hannibal Regional and wanted Vickie to receive the same compassionate care he received during his cancer journey. Keith shares, “The cancer team at Hannibal Regional is incredibly kind, caring, and professional. They take care of every need, and I could not ask for a better support system.”

Nervous with her new diagnosis, Vickie first met with Dr. Joseph Bean, Radiation Oncologist at the James E. Cary Cancer Center. Vickie’s doctors in Columbia had come up with a plan of care for her and Dr. Bean was able to facilitate this plan along with Dr. Kevin Palka, Hematologist and Oncologist with Hannibal Regional Cancer Institute. Vickie’s plan would include Total Neoadjuvant Therapy, which consists of a combination of radiation and chemotherapy followed by surgery. Vickie needed radiation every day for five and a half weeks. The nurses in Dr. Bean’s office helped Vickie to navigate this first part of her cancer journey. With daily appointments, she would be able to stay close to home, making it much easier and less stressful for her and her husband.

While receiving radiation treatments, Vickie was also taking oral chemotherapy and saw Dr. Palka regularly for follow-up care. With the love that Vickie has for her family, it was important for her to understand if colorectal cancer would be something that her children and grandchildren would need to worry about in their futures. Dr. Palka performed genetic testing to see if her cancer was hereditary. Fortunately, Vickie’s cancer was not genetic. Dr. Palka worked with Vickie on her plan of care and it was decided that following radiation she would start chemotherapy.

The connection Vickie has made with the team taking care of her has become very important to Vickie. She shares, “My heart is filled with so much love for Dr. Bean, Dr. Palka and all of the wonderful nurses and radiation therapists. They all have helped me navigate my cancer journey, making it less scary. They all have worked together as a team to take care of everything I needed from insurance, to gas cards, answering questions, and just being there for me. The nurses have made my care so seamless; they would set appointments up so I would go to radiation with Dr. Bean and when I was finished, I would go directly to see Dr. Palka without having to worry about appointment times. Along with my family, friends, and my church family, my cancer team is my support system, and I am eternally grateful for each of them.”

Vickie has finished radiation and is continuing chemotherapy with Dr. Palka. Her doctors have all expressed to her that her cancer is curable, and she is doing well with her treatment. Vickie is feeling great, more like herself, and begins each day joyously. “I am forever thankful for my husband; he saved my life by pushing me to get a colonoscopy. If I would have waited, it could have been much worse and might not have been treatable. My advice is: whatever it might bea mammogram, colonoscopy, prostate screening— just get the test done. It just might save your life.”  

To learn more about prevention, treatment or risk of developing colorectal cancer, call to schedule an appointment with one of the gastroenterologists at Hannibal Regional Medical Group (573) 629-3500.