CLEVELAND (WJW) – Fourteen months after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, a Cleveland police officer is returning to the job that she says is one of the great passions of her life.
In 2021, Vicki Przybylski was living her best life.
As the mother of three grown children, she was a highly respected Cleveland police patrol officer in the city’s fourth district. She worked alongside her best friend and soul mate, her husband Nikolai, who is a fourth district detective.
Showcasing what kind of officer she is, Vicki once took a report about a five-year-old child whose bicycle had been stolen. Her solution was to convince a local store to donate a new bike for the child.
“I’ve always tried to help everybody out as much as I can, whenever I can, and that came back to me tenfold,” she said.
In November of 2021, Vicki began to feel ill and scheduled an appointment at University Hospitals’ main campus.
“They did a CT scan and they came in and told me, ‘Well, we found a 21-centimeter mass on your left ovary,’ and I said, ‘Can I have that in English?’ and they said, ‘Oh, eight inches,’ and I was like ‘Oh, that’s not good,’” she said.
Doctors at UH told Vicki that she had stage 4 ovarian cancer and that she would need surgery to remove a large portion of the tumor, followed by intensive chemotherapy.
After the startling diagnosis, one of the doctor had a simple question for Vicki.
“’How are you feeling about this? and I told her, ‘God’s got this,'” she said.
After the surgery, Vicki endured nine rounds of chemo. She says it was challenging, but it was tolerable because of the support of her husband and a small army of friends, relatives and co-workers.
“He’s my hero. He’s taken such good care of me, him and, you know, my family, my friends, my CPD family. I could never repay everything they’ve done for me,” Vicki said.
Even though she was facing the fight of a lifetime, Vicki continued to work as a police expediter, taking reports over the phone, providing support for victims and giving them a shoulder to cry on.
In June of 2022, doctors told Vicki that although she would need to continue some of the treatments, the cancer was in remission.
“It was awesome because it was just being able to face a challenge so huge,” she said with a smile.
After her incredible journey, Vicki is now returning to the job that gives her the most satisfaction — patrolling the neighborhoods on Cleveland’s east side, where she is known for building relationships with the Clevelanders she serves and protects,. It’s a quality that she tries to instill in young officers.
“If this was your grandmother that was calling, if this was you sister, how would you want the police to treat them? And that’s how we should treat people, like they’re family. I love to meet people where they’re at and try and be the light for them, try and put them on a better path,” she said.
Her advice for anyone facing the same medical challenge is, “don’t quit and keep moving forward.”