Founded In Faith

The Inspiring Cancer Story of Tiffany Spratt
Spratt and her family after her last radiation treatment. Courtesy of Tiffany Spratt
Spratt and her family after her last radiation treatment. Courtesy of Tiffany Spratt

“We have very strong faith. Our faith is the backbone to everything.”

— Tiffany Spratt

For many individuals, a visit to the doctor’s office is nothing out of the ordinary. A common check-up to calm the nerves and assure themselves their sweet tooth isn’t leading to diabetes. For Business teacher Tiffany Spratt, however, the news wasn’t so fortunate nearly 12 years ago.

On Sept. 13, 2012, Spratt was diagnosed with stage 3 rectal cancer. It was as low as it could get near her anus, pushing into her wall cavity and the size of a quarter. Over the next few days, it would continue to grow until it was the size of a small softball, and Spratt’s confidence would shrink. Not only had she found out her life was on the line, but her employer at the time would end up letting her go, and her dreams of having a third baby would be diminished.

Spratt and her husband, Jon, with shaved heads. Courtesy of Tiffany Spratt

So here she was at 34 with a husband in need of his wife, children in need of their mother, and a handful of questions in need of answers: How did this happen? Where do I go from here? Will I make it through this? Can I? Thankfully, Spratt and her family had something up their sleeves that would turn this tragedy into a triumph.

“We have very strong faith. Our faith is the backbone of everything,” Spratt explained. “People say ‘Well God never gives you more than you can handle’ and that is a complete falsity. It’s ‘God never gives you more than you can handle without Him.’ Because by myself all of this would have been impossible, I wouldn’t even be here today,” she said.

With faith in hand and family at her side, Spratt began her brutal battle with the disease. She started chemotherapy on Oct. 8, two months after her diagnosis. During the gap in between, she and her family had undergone genetic testing to see if there had been any predisposition to the cancer. There was none, and the only other members in Spratt’s family who had cancer had been both of her grandfathers, whose cancer had been caused by outside sources.

During her therapy, she wore a fanny pack of chemo perpetually from Monday to Saturday that was connected to a port that went into her chest. Alongside this, she was doing 15-minute radiation treatments Monday through Friday at Louisville Brown Cancer Center. She went through this for six weeks, tallying up 33 radiation treatments in total, of which three were blasts: a treatment that delivers a specified dose of radiation to the tumor in a short burst using a remote afterloading machine. For two months the chemo and radiation worked to shrink her tumor to be able to perform surgery.

Spratt with her first port access to start chemo. Courtesy of Tiffany Spratt

On Jan. 30, 2013, Spratt had her surgery. It was one of the longest the hospital had ever done, settling at 8 ½ hours. They did a full hysterectomy, took out 27 lymph nodes, and ended up taking out her entire anal cavity and seven inches up. Due to this, she went through menopause at 34 when most women experience it at 50-60 years old. She was in the hospital for 11 days. On day three in the hospital, she started feeling nauseous and became very ill. She went septic and fell into a non-medicated coma. Spratt recalled her experience while she was under.

“I felt like I was talking to everybody, but they told me I never woke up. I remember – in my brain – looking over to my husband and telling him to get a notebook and that he needed to write some stuff down. Now what happened was, I’ve never told anyone to this day, six different old movie reels came in. There would be people in them and I remember thinking I was talking to him and saying, ‘I need you to write down this, this, and this to tell these people.’ Then I’d roll over and go back to sleep. There were multiple people in all of them except for the last one. They say your life flashes before your eyes before you’re going to die. I knew I was going to die. Without a shadow of a doubt.”

Spratt awoke two days after with her stomach swollen as if she was eight months pregnant. She was coherent enough to tell that her mother was next to her, so she warned her that if she didn’t get her help, she was going to die. She remembers having a magic marker-sized tube getting shoved down her nose and into her stomach. Green bile rose from it and her stomach began to go down. She had four additional surgeries to clean up the rest of the infection.

The healing process was not any more relieving. Her husband had to pack her wounds three times a day with gauze, her tailbone was visible, and it was excruciatingly painful. If he hadn’t done that, she would’ve been in a rehab facility for weeks on a Winvac, a device that decreases air pressure on a wound, which is even more painful.

At her first follow-up visit, her doctor informed her that something was wrong. She was taken into surgery immediately and it was discovered that her lesion had become infected.

Spratt at her fifth and final surgery. Courtesy of Tiffany Spratt

It took 15 months for her wound to heal completely and she was unable to do anything during that time, she couldn’t even sit up. The support of her husband and family was a tremendous healing factor for her and is one of the main reasons she was able to make a full recovery.

Today, Spratt is 10 years cancer-free and has a permanent Ostomy bag. It hasn’t been easy for her in the slightest. She’s had to deal with many embarrassing moments, such as it leaking or making noise, but if that means she gets to live one more blessed day, then she is content with the disturbance.

“God gave me broad shoulders for this purpose. I’d much rather you laugh than sit and be like ‘Oh my gosh!’ Now if we point and laugh that’s a whole different ballgame, but just laugh it off, it’s okay. I’m alive. So if my bag makes some noise, I’m alive and that’s just something I have to deal with,” Spratt remarked.

Since her cancer, Spratt has had three students who have also had Ostomy bags whom she remains in contact with to this day, aiding them with any problems they may have. She’s helped multiple people around the state of Kentucky come to terms with their sickness and even assists her youngest sister with her two daughters who suffered from leukemia.

It’s quite obvious that, though she was handed the short straw, Spratt never let it drag her down. She fought with the strength of a thousand men, discovering a newfound appreciation for life. She learned to become a better person and value every little detail in this small, beautiful world. Her faith remains vigorous as she faces every day head-on, spreading that same love that saved her all those years ago.

Spratt with her husband, Jon. Courtesy of Tiffany Spratt

“If someone were to ask me one word to explain it, I’m just grateful. I want everybody to know what God’s love looks like without me having to say a word. Because I want them to know that when they walk into my classroom, we don’t have to agree on anything to be kind to one another. It is not my place to judge you, it is my place to love you. And if the world could get that through their head and learn that just because someone believes differently than me, acts different than me, or looks different than me, doesn’t mean I can’t like them. It doesn’t mean they’re not okay. It just means they’re different than I am, and how cool is that?”

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  • M

    Marianne VioletteMar 29, 2024 at 6:21 am

    We serve an awesome God and he has a purpose for Mrs Spratt beyond her imagination. Blessings.

  • B

    Brooklyn SuarezMar 28, 2024 at 2:12 pm

    This is so beautiful. God truly is so good and I’m so happy that Mrs. Spratt was leaning on Him for strength. He can make the impossible possible. Congratulations to Mrs. Spratt!!

  • J

    Jasmine HawkMar 27, 2024 at 2:31 pm