Conquering Cancer

A story about Rainah Gillis, and her battle through cancer 

By: Emily Perdue, Photographer 

In September 2011, Rainah Gillis, a 9th grade English teacher, was shocked when she discovered she had cervical cancer. “In November, around Thanksgiving, I had my first surgery,” Gillis states, “After that, I did intensive chemotherapy and internal and external radiation. Then, I had my second surgery in March 2012.” Gillis then explained that her five-year mark, being cancer free, is approaching in March 2018. 

Gillis feels her parents were her role models throughout her battle stating, “at the time, my mother was battling breast cancer, and my dad was battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. They were quite familiar with my struggle, and were my role models of strength.” 

When diagnosed, it was Gillis’ second year working at Tabb. Although Gillis hardly knew her coworkers at the time, she now describes them as her, “second family.”  

“They visited me in the hospital, sent me care packages and cards, donated time to help me with work, and cooked me meals,” Gillis says.  

When asked how Gillis’ experience made her stronger, she replied that, “after this experience, it has forced me to look at life through a different lens. I have always fought for the underdog, but this experience humbled me and made me even more sensitive to the plight of others.”  

Gillis would like to tell other cancer patients,

“Never give up. To, literally, take one day at a time so you’re not overwhelmed. Find refuge in family and friends. This too shall pass.”