Coffey Anderson rose to fame after appearing on Nashville Star and quickly became a staple of the country music scene. But recently the beloved country star and his wife Criscilla received a medical diagnosis that would change everything. The saying goes that bad things happen to good people, and in this case, it couldn’t be any more true: Criscilla has been left fighting for her life as Coffey continues scrambling to support the woman he loves.
From the moment he saw his future wife, Coffey knew it was meant to be. Criscilla is a dancer and choreographer, so the first time Coffey laid eyes on her, it was in no normal scenario.
The one and only Rhianna brought them together. Sort of. Coffey saw Criscilla dancing in Rhianna’s 2006 music video for her song “SOS.” When he noticed her blonde locks, he declared the woman on the screen would be his future wife.
The setting that finally brought them together was the opposite of a steamy music video set: In 2008, Criscilla was attending church with a friend when she introduced her to Coffey. They were married a year later.
See, before he gained fame on the country music scene, Coffey used his musical ability to lead worship at church. Both Criscilla and Coffey are deeply devout Christians. Their lives revolve around their faith, as his 2015 album name “God Is Enough” indicates.
Shortly after the wedding, the couple started a family. They have three beautiful children— 8-year-old Ethan, 6-year-old Emmarie, and 2-year-old Everleigh. But the thriving young family couldn’t foresee the enormous trouble ahead.
It began rather innocently. In 2018, Criscilla began complaining of some benign stomach pains. Slowly but surely, they began to get more severe. Before too long, she was doubled over in pain.
As a mother of young children, she explained that her priority was not her own health. But the physical reality of her pain forced that to change. “There came a point when I couldn’t ignore it anymore,” she said.
One emergency room trip sent her home with a colitis diagnosis and antibiotics. She was required to check in with her doctor in the following month if the pain did not subside. However, only a few days later, she was back in the hospital.
The pain had only intensified. Her doctors once again sent her home with some cramping medicine and the same instructions as before. Criscilla and Coffey were desperate for some real answers when she was recommended a particular doctor by a friend of hers.
When the GI doctor she was referred to decided to do an emergency colonoscopy to find the source of the issue, Criscilla finally got the diagnosis she had been searching for. Only, the news was anything but good.
A tumor prevented doctors from even giving the colonoscopy. Once a biopsy was performed, they confirmed their worst possible fears: She was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer. Before she even had time to process this, she was in the operating room.
After emergency surgery that removed over two feet of her colon, things seemed to be looking up for Criscillia. The young mom enjoyed a brief remission from the deadly cancer… before it came back with a vengeance.
“The cancer has spread throughout my para-aortic region and has begun growing up my back,” she says of her most recent Stage 4 colon cancer diagnosis. Her doctor believed it was “treatable, but not curable.”
By the end of 2019, she was prepared to begin three months of chemotherapy in an attempt to rid herself of the horrible disease. For Coffey, this ordeal with his wife was incredibly painful for more than one reason. It reminded him of a dark time in his past.
At only 11-years-old, Coffey lost his mother to lung cancer. “I hate the smell of hospitals,” he said. “I remember how my dad took care of my mom. He was the one carrying her to the bathroom. Now, I’m taking care of my wife.”
Through this unimaginable trial, they remained steadfast in their faith. “Life is not fair, but God is always good,” Coffey said of the situation. He was known for his optimistic outlook on life, and it’s one of the many things that made Criscillia fall for him.
“He just tries to keep smiling,” Criscillia said of Coffey. Their children were a profound source of light in their life, and they cited being surrounded by their kids as a point of strength even in some of the hardest moments.
“They bring so much joy and love with them. They are the sweetest children,” Coffey gushed of their three young ones. Undoubtedly they needed all the joy they could get as they headed bravely into this difficult fight.
“When they lay their head down on my shoulder, I just feel so lucky to be their mom,” Criscilla said. “When we are all together, everything is okay again.” The family started a GoFundMe to help fund her lifesaving treatment.
Clearly, bad things happen to good people. The incredible resiliency of Criscilla and Coffey showed the definition of the vows “in sickness and in health.” Their fearless optimism in the face of the unimaginable was extremely inspiring.
Criscilla recently traveled to Mexico to get some of the most cutting-edge cancer treatments. Though it’s a long uphill battle she is still remaining positive about healing. Criscilla has been gaining hope as she does more research on new treatments for advanced cancer. One woman she spoke with made a full recovery from what doctors first told her was a death sentence.
Fighting cancer, Criscilla has met a whole new world of people, but no one struck her quite like Darla Rodgers. Years earlier when Darla visited the emergency room because of sudden pain, the doctor spoke to her three solemn words no patient wants to hear. But Darla told Criscilla she knew right then and there her story wasn’t over, it was just beginning.
Everything happened on Mother’s Day back in 2014, Darla Rodgers and her husband, Tim, were having a mellow celebration in their home. While they were watching a movie in their living room, Darla was struck with severe pains in her abdomen.
As the pain worsened, Tim didn’t want to take any chances with Darla’s health, so he drove her to a nearby hospital. He wanted a doctor to examine her just in case the pain was something serious, like appendicitis.
Once at the hospital, doctors took a sample of blood from Darla and, after examining it, determined a short-notice CAT scan was warranted. This wasn’t at all what Darla and Tim were expecting. They prayed nothing serious would come of it.
After the CAT scan was complete, Darla and Tim waited anxiously in the hospital room for the results. After what seemed like hours, the doctor came back, and he had a grim look on his face…
He stared at the couple intently before pulling out the results of the CAT scan. He then spoke three words that made both Darla and Tim go numb with fear: “You have cancer.” Darla’s world instantly collapsed.
More specifically, the doctor told Darla she had stage-four colon cancer, and within six months, she would die. She checked herself into the Huntsman Cancer Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah, to begin an intense chemotherapy regimen in hopes she could beat the odds.
Like nearly all patients who underwent chemo, she began to get sick from the constant radiation flooding her body. Finally, one doctor stepped in with a totally different plan…
His name was Dr. Glynn Gilcrease, and he was an Associate Professor of Oncology. He feared the approach Darla was taking would have detrimental effects on her liver, so he put her on a lower chemotherapy dose. However, he also wanted to get a second opinion on the matter.
Dr. Gilcrease consulted with a close colleague and section chief for Interventional Radiology, Ryan O’Hara. After an in-depth discussion about the safest option for Darla, both men agreed on a potential solution…
It was called radioembolization. The intricate process would launch millions of microscopic radioactive beads directly into Darla’s bloodstream, where they’d lodge themselves into her body and slowly destroy the tumor. It was a complicated procedure that didn’t always work.
The doctors also had access to SIR-spheres, minuscule spheres infused with a special radioactive isotope used for battling cancer. The level of radioactivity in SIR-spheres was much safer than most other cancer-fighting medications. With all these tools at hand, Darla’s operation began…
Dr. O’Hara and six of his colleagues spent hours operating on Darla. For eight days after the operation, she went through intense, and often painful, specialized treatments. However, on the ninth day, miraculously, she felt better than she had in months.
She didn’t want to get her hopes up, however. Cancer, as she knew, is ruthless, and it can creep up again at any moment. A few weeks after her invasive operation, doctors ran some tests and came back to her with news…
The tumors on her lungs and liver had disappeared! Her body took to the SIR-spheres, and for the first time in what felt like forever, she didn’t need chemotherapy. She also became very close with a woman who went through a similar experience.
Her name was Suzanne Lindley, and she was a 19-year cancer survivor. She was also the founder of a Texas-based cancer support group called Yes! Beat Liver Tumors. Suzanne, having lived through cancer herself, took Darla under her wing.
Not only did Suzanne shower Darla with emotional support, but she made Darla the poster child for her support group. Darla embraced the opportunity and involved herself in as many fundraisers and opportunities to help others as possible.
A lot of amazing opportunities came along because of Darla’s involvement with Suzanne’s group. She was invited to the Academy Awards one year, and she went to the People’s Choice Awards. But neither of those compared to one incredible event she took part in…
Darla walked down the runway for a special fashion show that featured cancer survivors! It was an incredible opportunity to spread a positive message for those who were braving a battle of their own. Of course, Darla couldn’t have done any of this without one particular person…
Her husband Tim showed a level of support and understanding matched by no one else in her life. He was by her side the entire time and always made sure to keep her mood up. Finally cancer free, Darla made it her mission to live every day to the fullest!