It was 26 years ago in February when Sharon Evans received the news. After thinking she only had the flu, Evans learned it was much worse. There was nothing to prepare her for the diagnoses of multiple myeloma. She was given two years to live.
Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cell. It is an incurable, but treatable disease. Research shows it is the second most prevalent blood cancer after non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Suddenly finding herself in a fight for her life, Sharon relied upon her husband Bob for strength. Bob gladly took on the role of his wife's advocate.
"(He) took care of everything," Sharon said.
Bob kept himself informed. He received copies of all the doctor's charts and paperwork throughout his wife's illness.
Sharon -- a rarely ill person to that time -- suffered kidney failure, which led the doctors to find the cancer. She underwent brutal cancer treatments along with dialysis. She took machine dialysis through a shunt every other month for six months to one year.
While taking dialysis, Sharon continued to teach her sixth graders at Central Elementary. She left early two days each week for her treatments.
"South Putnam was wonderful," she recalled. "They let me leave early and have privacy when I was put on peritoneal dialysis."
One day Bob received a phone call from someone suggesting peritoneal dialysis. With this form of dialysis, Sharon was able to still get her treatments without having to make the trip to Indianapolis for them.
Since she was given a grim prognosis, Sharon was an unlikely candidate for a kidney transplant.
However, in August of 1992, Sharon's name was put into a computer for a transplant. It was in October of the same year when Sharon received her new kidney -- she has named it "Amy Elizabeth."
The average transplant recipient survives nine to 10 years with the longest being 28 years. Odds mean little to the Sharon, though. Before Sharon Evans, the longest survivor of multiple myeloma was 17 years.
Instead of a heartbreaking tale, Bob and Sharon Evans have one filled with blessings and miracles. The journey reestablished focus for Sharon and her husband.
"What seemed important before was no longer important," she said.
While doctors will never say Sharon is cured, her cancer has been in remission since June of 1986.
She and Bob have three sons, Brad, Stan and Scott. Sharon has been teaching in the South Putnam school district since 1972 -- the same year she married Bob.
Putnam County natives Bob and Sharon have served the community for many years.
Sharon was instrumental in the building of the Putnam County Public Library. She served on its board for a total of 18 years.
Bob is one of the founders of the Putnam County Community Foundation. From 1990 to 1993, he served as its president. He is also the Evans at Collins-Evans Real Estate agency.