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Stronger Than Colon Cancer

Research nurse Ellen Lilly-Foreman (left) with Trina Taylor (Isaac)

Trina Taylor (Isaac) has felt God’s guidance throughout her journey with colorectal cancer. She had been out of work for over a year before she was hired at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in 2008, an opportunity that was an answer to her prayers and more.

Isaac remembers feeling sluggish. Already thin, she was losing more weight and didn’t know why. She had some mild GI symptoms, and the combination caused her to go to Johns Hopkins Occupational Health Services, which directs employees to experts who can advise them on health-related issues.

Occupational health got the medical tests rolling, including a colonoscopy. Isaac learned she had advanced colon cancer.

“I prayed. I cried, and then I made up my mind that I was going to beat it,” says Isaac. “I have cancer, but cancer doesn’t have me. I refused to let it control me.”

She had surgery to remove a large portion of her colon and began chemotherapy. Her colleagues at Johns Hopkins rallied around her. “I told my staff, if I come to work wearing stilettos, that’s a sign that it is a good day. If I’m wearing flats, you will know I’m having a tough time,” she says.  They coined the phrase “strength in stilettos” to honor Isaac’s courage and perseverance. “They made me want to come to work,” she says.

Isaac’s cancer continued to grow, and it persisted even with more chemotherapy and the addition of radiation therapy. In 2013, she had a permanent colostomy to surgically remove more of her cancerous colon.

Isaac remains strong and continues to look to clinical trials—studies of experimental new treatments—to gain an edge on her cancer.

“This journey isn’t easy,” she says. Isaac has a young son and can’t help but worry about not being here for him.  She focuses on enjoying each moment with him and bringing hope and information to others battling cancer. She lives her life by her self-proclaimed motto #MMOP—make memories on purpose.

She makes sure her voice is heard. She is a member of a Johns Hopkins patient advisory council, the Hope Project, encouraging other Kimmel Cancer Center patients. She is also an Osto Beauty—one of four African-American women who stepped out of their comfort zone to put a public face to colorectal cancer and offer support to women who have or need colostomies.

“I wanted to go out into the community to talk about my experience,” she says. “People don’t talk about it.”

Isaac has chronicled her journey on Facebook, and the stunning survivor caught the attention of a fashion designer. Now, Isaac can add runway model to her list of accomplishments. More importantly, however, she hopes to be a role model—for her son and for everyone battling cancer.



5 thoughts on “Stronger Than Colon Cancer”

  1. I saw Trina this weekend on the TV special for cancer research. She is BEAUTIFUL inside and out. I was soooo proud to see her on that runway looking AMAZING. Kudos to the designer(s) who had the foresight to have her in their show. Trina, you are truly an inspiration to all of us who have experienced or had a friend or family member experience colon cancer - or cancer of any kind. Keep it up. Your Blessings Will Catch Up To You and your stilettos. 🙂

  2. My office is next door to Trina's and she is truly amazing. She is in Stiletto's more than she is in flats. Not to say she does not have a bad day every now and then, but the good far outweigh the bad. What is most amazing is her attitude. She never gives up. She always has a smile on her face. She is one of the strongest women I know. As manager of inpatient financial clearance, she cares about patients and their experience at Hopkins. As a single mom, she is trying to teach her son everything there is to know to be "a good man". She lives by the Hopkins Core Values and is a role model to everyone with whom she comes into contact. Her motto "Make Memories on Purpose" is inspirational. She has taught many people to live their life day to day and to the fullest. I feel privileged to know and work with her.

  3. I had the pleasure of meeting Trina and her team prior to me transitioning to Keswick Patient Access as an Operations Manager. I thought modeling was in her line of many talents, Trina make-up was absolutely flawless and her outfit was made for a queen.

    I would not have imagined in a million years that she was a superhero and a cancer advocate. Trina adds on to the many reasons that I’m proud to be a Keswick family member from the South side.

    Trina, keep demonstrating that “winning attitude”, strutting those stilettos, and walking those runways. God bless.

  4. I don't even know you Trina, but your story had moved me to pray for you and your son. Recently, I had a colonoscopy and the doctor removed two polyps. I was very scared waiting for my results. Praise the Lord they were not cancerous, and it is a lesson for me that I do need to be more conscious about my health.
    I admire you for being so strong, and please don't quit, keep going until you see your victory. Next time I wear stilettos I will think of you.

  5. I am one of the Managers who have had the pleasure of working with Trina. As I told her recently she is an Amazing Woman. Her journey has been something most of us may never have to travel. Her stamina and positive attitude proves to me that she will conquer anything she puts her mind to. As I said she is an Amazing Woman, who is a perfect role model for everyone.

    Trina is in my daily prayers, and I know her faith, and our Lord are right beside her and will see her through this journey.

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