Cincinnati Police Officer Alisha Stevenson was diagnosed with Stage 2 colon cancer in July, just a few months shy of her 34th birthday.
In August, doctors said further testing determined her cancer had progressed to Stage 3.
Officer Stevenson and her family were devastated as she underwent chemotherapy and radiation. The married wife with a toddler son wasn't sure what her future would hold.
"I was hurt to the core because my daughter was healthy," her mother, Teresa Harley, said in an exclusive interview Tuesday with FOX19 NOW Anchor Rob Williams.
"She eats healthy, exercises. She was healthy. I was devastated. And she had my little Joseph at 2-years old. And, additionally, she wanted more children. But because of the cancer and the chemo, there’s really no more children coming.”
Officer Stevenson tried not to worry. She relied on a strong network of family, friends and co-workers to carry her through.
In an interview last month, she said once she was well enough, she wanted to start a non-profit agency to help others diagnosed with cancer navigate through the ordeal.
"It is scary, but I do believe there is a God and things work in mysterious ways and you put your faith in God to take away a lot of that burden," she told FOX19 NOW on Nov. 18 when Cincinnati police and the community threw a fundraiser for her.
Officer Stevenson was scheduled to undergo surgery earlier this month at a cancer specialty center in Illinois.
She said doctors hoped to remove the tumor on her sphincter muscle without having to leave her using a colostomy bag the rest of her life.
Then, just like that, her tumor seemingly vanished when her latest colonoscopy results came back, she said.
Her surgery was canceled, and she celebrated the holidays home with husband and son.
"The tumor is gone," Officer Stevenson posted to her Facebook page Nov. 30. "God is good, your prayers worked! Now it's time to help others on their wellness journey's #4awareness."
Her mother describes her daughter today as "cancer-free."
But, as relieved as she is that her daughter's story had a happy ending, she said she knows other officers who once worked at District 5 did not.
Officer Stevenson was a District 5 patrol officer for just over a year before becoming a school resource officer and working in the police department's youth services section. She mentored and protected children at Riverview Academy in the East End.
In a Dec. 7 interview with FOX19 NOW, Officer Stevenson said she always wondered if conditions at District 5 contributed or caused her cancer.
FOX19 NOW launched a series of investigative reports into the Ludlow Avenue building last month after the police union president took our cameras inside for an exclusive tour to expose what he said were "shameful" conditions.
Now Sgt. Dan Hils is calling for all past and present District 5 officers who were diagnosed with cancer to contact him. He confirms he has met with lawyers and says a cancer pattern among officers who once worked in the building or who are there now is concerning and needs further statistical analysis.
There is no known link between District 5 and officers getting cancer, but Hils has said he thinks there could be and some officers and their families agree.
“I think the city knew about the problem and should have done something sooner. (District 5 commander) Capt. (Bridget) Bardua complained about the problems and they didn’t really do anything, not that I know of," Officer Stevenson said.
She also said the building should be shut down at once.
Since then, city officials have had District 5 tested for mold, radon and asbestos at the request of the police union.
Those tests essentially gave District 5 a "pretty much a clean bill of health," City Manager Harry Black has said.
The tests turned up lower levels of common forms of mold at District 5 than what we are exposed to everyday outside and no issues with radon or asbestos, City Manager Harry Black told City Council in a Dec. 19 memo.
But Officer Stevenson's mother remains concerned and also thinks the building should shut down.
She said her daughter previously complained to her District 5 was "disgusting and nasty. It was a bad place to work in."
She is closely watching a motion proposed by Cincinnati City Councilman Charlie Winburn to close District 5 by May, temporarily relocated the officers there now to another facility and find money in the 2018 budget to build a new, permanent police facility.
Estimates put the price tag at $17 million to $20 million.
The entire city council could vote on the motion in early January.
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