Meet Some of Our Cancer Services Patients

Mary M.

Mary Headshot

All my doctors for treatment were with St. Vincent’s and they worked together to stay on the same page and provide me with care.”

In January 2015, Mary found a lump in her breast while doing a self-exam in the shower. The mother of four young children took immediate action to see her primary care physician. Three days after finding the lump, Mary had a mammogram and an ultrasound. Less than a week later a biopsy was performed and just six days after that she was diagnosed with breast cancer. It’s not the news anyone wants to hear but is even more difficult for a mother of four children. Mary’s four kids are under 16 so she wasn’t just worried about herself.

It’s a blessing Mary acted quickly because doctors informed her that her particular type of cancer was very aggressive and that aggressive measures would need to be taken to save her life. She would need a double mastectomy, radiation and an entire year of chemotherapy.

To get through it all, Mary relied on the help of her husband and mother who flew in from Germany to help care for her ailing daughter and worried grandchildren. St. Vincent’s nurse navigators stepped in too. Mary’s breast navigator helped coordinate all of her appointments among other things. “There are so many questions you have its great having someone to depend on,” said Mary. In addition, Mary and her family took advantage of Kid’s Together Against Cancer (KTAC) , a unique children’s support group provided by St. Vincent’s. This free program is open to all patients regardless of where they receive treatment.

We are happy to report Mary is now cancer-free!

Gayle W.

Gayle Headshot

“St. Vincent’s was with me from the beginning. All of my appointments, treatments and care have been here. Even spiritually, the pastors were available to pray with me before my surgeries.”

Gayle W. discovered a sizable lump in her breast in 2014 and spent a year fighting for her life. Three surgeries (including a double mastectomy), 36 rounds of radiation and eight rounds of chemotherapy later and this 40 year old mother of two is back in dental hygienist school finding her new normal.

After finding the lump, she visited the St. Vincent’s Family Medicine Center and received a referral to the Josephine H. Bryan Breast Health Center for a biopsy and to begin working with her Breast Navigator. Her type of cancer was aggressive, growing rapidly and required quick, coordinated care between many specialists. Her appointments were scheduled by her navigator and she was given weekly updates as to what appointments were coming up. Genetic testing revealed she had a 50% chance of developing ovarian cancer so she also opted to have her ovaries removed.

In addition, her family benefited from Kid’s Together Against Cancer (KTAC) , a unique children’s support group at St. Vincent’s. The cancer diagnosis began to take a toll on Gayle’s children, especially after she lost her hair. They were able to meet and identify with other children whose parents were also fighting cancer through KTAC .This free program, established by St. Vincent’s, is open to all patients regardless of where they receive treatment.

Rosa C.

Rosa Headshot

Everyone you come in contact with at St. Vincent’s is caring and welcomes you. I was blessed to have a wonderful experience with the staff and I still do.”

At St. Vincent’s, screening is just the start when it comes to our comprehensive Breast Cancer Care Program, just ask Rosa. Rosa C. thinks the best thing a women can do for herself is to get a yearly mammogram. She has been making it a priority for 36 years! A benign tumor early in her life prompted her to start yearly mammograms at the age of 35. Then in September 2013 she had an abnormal mammogram and needed a biopsy. The radiologist confirmed it was stage one cancer. Her surgeon suggested a double mastectomy based on success rates and she also received radiation and chemotherapy. During her treatment, Rosa lost her appetite and worked with our cancer dietitian to find recipes and supplements that would keep her energy up. Rosa attends free weekly yoga classes at St. Vincent’s and our monthly breast cancer support group, Candid Conversations. Her experience at St. Vincent’s has made her want to give back to other patients and volunteer at St. Vincent’s on-site American Cancer Society office.

Robert H.

Robert Headshot

I’m living and learning and I remembering to give thanks to my Lord Jesus and St. Vincent’s

Robert was rushed by his neighbor to the St. Vincent’s Emergency Room (link to ER) after collapsing in his yard. His intestines had ruptured requiring emergency surgery and blood transfusions. He didn’t know it yet, but the 59 year old had colorectal cancer. He had no reason to suspect anything like this would happen. Periodically he had bloating and indigestion but he did not have pain or blood in his stools, the other tell-tale symptoms of the disease.

To make matters worse, Robert was laid off from his job just months before his medical crisis. It did not take long for his treatments to eat up all of his savings. His navigator and social worker coordinated many care appointments and services. This included help for his living expenses and finding a clinical trial to provide him with his $8,000 a month cancer medication. St. Vincent’s HOPE Program was able to help with additional medical expenses as well. This let Robert focus on getting well.

An additional challenge Robert faced was his colostomy bag. It dramatically changes a person’s daily routine and presented so many new issues for Robert to manage. Many patients are forced to live with this permanently but Robert wound up being an ideal candidate for a colostomy reversal procedure. He had taken an active role in his healing and diligently followed his doctor’s aftercare instructions. The procedure was performed on his birthday and was a significant milestone to starting his new year.

Robert is now on the road to recovery and is looking forward to getting back to work. “I just want to get well and get my dignity back”