October 22, 2021

‘Rowing saved my life’

Former county resident beats stage four cancer

Photo provided by Alis Jordan

John Bell and Alis Jordan race competitively in a recent Sarasota invitational. The married couple started the Cape Coral Rowing Club in Florida. Jordan is a stage four cancer survivor.

This story appeared in the June 30, 2018 edition of the Cortland Standard.

Alis Jordan of Clermont, Fla. got a wake-up call after a rowing accident.

The former Cortland woman, dealing with a ruptured spleen and crushed liver from the 2011 incident, heard even more devastating news — she had cancer.

“At the age of 58, I wasn’t sure I would ever see my next birthday. The odds the doctors were giving me weren’t stacked in my favor and I was very scared but determined to fight. I was not ready to die,” she said in her book, “Rowing Through Cancer.”

Jordan, 65, an artist and retired art director, attended Cortland High School and is the daughter of Ralph L. and Rose K. Jordan, who lived in Cortland from 1970 to 1973.

Ralph Jordan is the former executive director of the Cortland County Chamber of Commerce. Rose Jordan owned and operated Rose’s Fabric Shop on Main Street, Cortland.

“Rowing Through Cancer” explores Alis Jordan’s six-year battle with stage four endometrial/peritoneal cancer, using traditional and holistic medicine. People can read her blog and find out more at www. rowingthroughcancer.com.

“On October of 2011, I had a rowing accident in Italy. This led to my emergency surgery and two-week hospital stay for a ruptured spleen and crushed liver. After one week in the intensive care unit, I was finally in a private room and told, very abruptly, they found cancer in the pathology report,” she opens in her book.

The story relates her many difficult and scary struggles. It talks about her journey back to God, a renewed belief in herself, angels who guided and helped along her path to recovery, and, the importance of support by friends and family, according to the release.

Jordan said Thursday that she and her husband, John Bell, started the Cape Coral Rowing Club in 2007. They were a competitive team and raced throughout the Northeast. They did well, and at that time, they were sweep rowing. Now the two are doing competitive sculling, racing as singles and doubles, in 34-foot boats.

Jordan said the first time she had cancer, she believed in traditional medicine. She did a year of chemotherapy treatment for her stage four cancer and it worked, killing off five tumors.

“When I left the Mayo Clinic, they said, ‘Go live your life.’” she said. She thought the cancer was gone. “I took that as ‘I am healthy.’

But three years later, when she was starting to feel better, the cancer returned. This time, the chemotherapy did not work. Her body rejected it.

She went to integrative medicine and worked with a “wonderful” doctor in Orlando. He gave her doses of vitamin C by IV and a heat treatment, called I-therm, for the tumor. “Tumors can’t live in high heat,” she said.

“At that point, I said, ‘I have to change what I am doing.’ It’s like the definition of insanity. You keep doing the same thing over and over and you expect a different outcome.’”

She went to a holistic diet: raw foods, juicing, taking vitamins. She doesn’t eat sugar or grains.

“I feel like I am healthier than ever,” she said. She just got a clean bill of health from the Mayo Clinic. “My blood work is better than ever.”

Cancer patients using or considering using alternative therapies should talk with their doctor or nurse, according to the National Cancer Institute at the National Institute of Health. Some may interfere with standard treatment or may be harmful.

“I blog about my daily issues and what I am learning,” Jordan said.

Jordan believes once you have cancer, you always have cancer. If she experiences pain, cramps, she immediately thinks, ‘cancer,’ she said. Today, she works on her
“mental cleansing.”

And she goes to the Mayo Clinic for diagnostic work. “No matter what, they are the best,” she said. “It’s a good place.” And chemotherapy is wonderful. “It does kill your tumor,” Jordan said, but it does kill your immune system, too. “Integrative medicine is the way to go. It doesn’t hurt your body.”

“I believe, if you get oxygen into your body, you are going to kill cancer … If you exercise, you get a lot of oxygen. It helps the immune system. You body needs oxygen,” she said.

Jordan said her main goal in publishing the book is to help those diagnosed with cancer know the battle can be won. She hopes it will help others to make the right decisions.

“You never, ever, ever give up. You push through it,” she said.

Through it all, she has never stopped rowing.

“The coaches at the club, they were horrified I was still rowing,” she said when she had cancer. “Rowing is what saved my life.”

At times, she was weak from cancer and chemotherapy.

“I could hardly walk but somehow, I could push. I would row and I could feel the sun, the oxygen and exercise. It got me through it. And still does.”