Five years into his wife Camilla Row’s arduous fight with stomach cancer, Hallmark star Brennan Elliott took time on National Cancer Survivor Day — June 4, 2023 — to pay tribute to her and other cancer “warriors” who’ve been on their own tough journeys with the disease.
In a touching Instagram post, the actor shared how amazed he’s been by Row’s strength throughout her ordeal, from her initial diagnosis and treatment in 2018, which required the removal of her stomach, to learning in 2022 that the cancer had returned and metastasized to her ovaries, resulting in a scary Stage 4 diagnosis.
Row, who wrote her own post on her private Instagram feed to commemorate June as National Survivors Month, said she fought tooth and nail to get the treatments she felt she needed to battle the disease rather than settle for the six-to-12-month prognosis typically given to patients with a similar diagnosis.
“When I did the research, I knew most people with my ‘condition’ had prognosis of 6-12 months if not less,” she wrote. “I saw a few cases push that survival out to a few years, but this was the exception and not the rule. So what a blessing I am able here and able to celebrate this day. What an honor it is to be living and breathing today and everyday.”
Brennan Elliott Says He is in ‘Awe’ of Wife and Other Cancer Survivors
In his post, Elliott wrote his reflections and shared a montage of snapshots and video footage — with Sia’s “Unstoppable” playing in the background — that chronicled Row’s last five years of surgeries and treatments.
He wrote, “To say I am PROUD of this warrior queen is an understatement!!! She is an absolutely incredible woman and fighter. I don’t wish what we as a family have gone through on anyone,and wouldn’t want anyone to have to go through or experience a second not only what my wife has gone through but ALL of those men and women who have been effected by this horrible disease.”
Elliott continued, “Those survivors I bow before you in awe at your strength and perseverance in the storm of fear and pain! As a #caregiver to my beautiful wife I have witnessed strength and a warrior spirit that I never thought humanly possible.”
The couple, who have two kids together — Luna, 8, and Liam, 10 — have been open about the ups and downs of their experience, including advocating for more research and funding for aggressive cancers like hers. In April 2022, Row wrote about her journey for the Hope for Stomach Cancer website, detailing the surgeries and treatments she’d already undergone, and she recently spoke to 70 members of City of Hope‘s philanthropy team, helping them effectively communicate patients’ needs to potential donors.
That’s why in his most recent post, Elliott marveled at the energy Row has put into not only her own healing but into using her voice for good.
He wrote, “It has made me a better human being and man to watch and witness your warrior spirit my love! To care for, love and support my better half through this dreadful disease as difficult as it has been and continues to be , it has made me grow to being a better man,husband and father. Admiration for you my love is not a strong enough word!”
Brennan closed his post by writing, “I ❤️ you dearly and as hard as this journey is and has been your strength,love for your children and the spiritual power to never give up is the greatest inspiration that I have witnessed in my life. I am so proud of YOU 👏 and to you and all those #cancersurvivors I bow before u in awe! 🙏 I’ve always said behind every strong man is an ever STRONGER woman! I can attest to that in spades. Cami u r my HERO! 🙏❤️😘”
Brennan Elliott’s Wife Camilla Row Pushed for Trying Innovative Treatment After 2022 Recurrence
Elliott wrote a similarly sweet post to his wife on Mother’s Day 2023, praising her “perseverance in times of trials.” Row has not only faced many surgeries and rounds of chemo, but also self-advocated until she could find a practitioner willing to try a controversial treatment called hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemoperfusion, or HIPEC, after new tumors were discovered on her ovaries in January 2022, signaling a recurrence of the disease.
In her June 4 Instagram post, Row wrote, “I took a lot of risks when every single oncologist and surgeon I met discouraged me from pursuing #hipec but since I am not one to listen…I did it anyways. At one point doctors and even patients would let me know that hipec would fail. Despite this, I buried myself into the data and this is when my self diagnosed OCD worked in my favor.”
According to a profile on Row in April 2023 by City of Hope, where she worked with Dr. Yanghee Woo, when a patient undergoes HIPEC, “chemotherapy drugs are heated and pumped directly into the abdominal cavity, where they circulate for a period of time before being flushed out. This method delivers a chemotherapy concentration 40 times stronger than standard intravenous chemotherapy, which can have difficulty reaching the peritoneal area effectively.”
Since her 2018 diagnosis, Row wrote that she has undergone dozens of IV treatments and multiple surgeries including four laparoscopic HIPECs, the removal of her stomach in a total gastrectomy, the removal of 47 lymph nodes, a double mastectomy, the removal of her ovaries and fallopian tubes, and the removal of cancer her peritoneal cavity and abdominal cavity.
When people hear this, she wrote, “They usually wonder how I am still standing!”
“But despite all the missing body parts and exposure to chemo toxins,” she continued, “I am so so relieved and happy I had these options. I know many stage 4 patients who don’t qualify for surgery and have limited options.”
Fortunately, Row’s status is currently NED, which stands for “no evidence of disease,” and she’s hopeful that will continue as she awaits new test results, which can take weeks to process. She focuses her energy on being a wife and mom, she said, and devotes the rest of her time to patient education and stomach cancer advocacy, saying “it brings me such gratification and joy knowing I can give back.”