Parkwest Health & Lifestyles

Unexpected Diagnosis

Barbara Kimmett, 72, of Farragut Kimmett came to the emergency department at Parkwest Medical Center one morning in February 2018 with a bowel obstruction. She wasn’t too concerned because it was something her mother had experienced as well.

“When they told me I had a bowel obstruction I thought, OK, well, I’m much younger than she was, so I’ll have surgery and everything
will be hunky-dory,” Kimmett says.

Barbara is back on her feet after Dr. Edwards discovered and removed her cancer.

Instead, Kimmett was stunned by a further diagnosis that would change everything. Parkwest surgeon Norma Edwards, MD, of Premier Surgical had some good news and some bad news.

“I don’t even remember what the good news was,” Kimmett says. “All I heard was, ‘You have a bowel obstruction. More than likely, it’s cancer and it is not curable.’”

Dr. Edwards, board certified general surgeon, was calm and reassuring. “It’s not a death sentence,” she told her patient.

“She had done her routine colonoscopy. She did everything she was supposed to do. She just happened to have the bad luck of having a tumor that grew quickly between her colonoscopies,” said Dr. Edwards.

Kimmett was old enough to fully understand that life isn’t always fair. Still, it was devastating to hear. “I just about died right there on the spot,” Kimmett says, “but everything worked out OK.”

Dr. Norma Edwards, General Surgeon

Solving the Problem
Dr. Edwards performed a bowel resection, removing the area where the cancer had developed and reattaching the open ends of the colon.

Several weeks later, Kimmett returned to Parkwest so Dr. Edwards could insert a port for cancer medication. The first medication was chemotherapy.

“Chemotherapy worked for a month or two,” Kimmett says. Then continued testing began to show that her carcinoembryonic antiantigen (CEA) numbers, a type of tumor marker indicating cancer cell growth, were going up and the chemo wasn’t working the way it should.

After further tests, an oncologist prescribed a cancer medicine that worked with Kimmett’s immune system to interfere with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body.

“It’s been like a miracle drug,” Kimmett says. “My CEA had been up at about 2,400, and normal is considered zero to five. Now I’ve been steady for about six months at 3.4.”

Like Family
Since then, Dr. Edwards has also repaired a hernia for Kimmett, and sent her to the Parkwest emergency department in time to be
successfully treated for an embolism. Kimmett has relied on her surgeon for both medical treatment and medical advice.

“She’s kind of like family to me. I just love her to death,” Kimmett says. “And I love Parkwest. I don’t think I’d go anywhere else.”

Dr. Edwards accepts the compliment, but says Kimmett deserves some praise, too. “She’s a very motivated patient and she did everything we asked her to do,” Dr. Edwards says. “It makes a huge difference in post-op care and recovery when patients participate and do the things that we ask them to do. She’s done remarkably well.”

Aside from the professional doctor-patient relationship, Dr. Edwards has connected with Kimmett on a personal level. “She’s a remarkable lady with a beautiful spirit and I just adore her,” Dr. Edwards says. “I’m really glad that our paths crossed, even though I wish it was in a different way. I think we’re both really happy that we’ve gotten a chance to know each other.”

For more information about General Surgeon Dr. Norma Edwards, visit her physician webpage at