Late last year, when 52-year-old Shereece Gardner discovered a lump in her breast during a self- exam, she immediately contacted Susan G. Komen® St. Louis.
Shereece Gardner (photo by Elizabeth White)
“I’ve participated in the Komen St. Louis Race for the Cure for the past 11 years,” recalls Shereece. “At that point, everything I knew about breast cancer, I knew because of Susan G. Komen. So, I assumed they had the resources to point me in the right direction.”
After hearing about Shereece’s situation, a Komen St. Louis staff member referred her to the Breast HealthCare Center (BHCC) at Missouri Baptist Medical Center. With Komen St. Louis funding, the BHCC provides increased access to breast screening services, as well as education, prevention and early detection of breast cancer by providing screening and diagnostic mammograms.
During her ﬁrst appointment, Shereece met with Theresa Taylor, an outreach coordinator at the BHCC. “I informed Shereece about our grant program, ‘Reaching the Underserved,’ which I knew could really help her out ﬁnancially,” says Theresa.
Funded by a Komen St. Louis grant for more than 12 years, the BHCC Reaching the Underserved program provides MBMC with the resources to support uninsured and underinsured women throughout the region. The program’s services are provided for at-risk women ages 40-64 at the BHCC and on its digital mobile mammography van. Follow-up services are provided at the BHCC for women with mammography abnormalities.
After meeting with Theresa, Shereece underwent a 3D mammogram (digital breast tomosynthesis), which provides more detailed, higher resolution images of the breasts, making it easier to detect smaller cancers. Unfortunately, the 3D mammogram revealed a suspicious tumor, and a subsequent biopsy conﬁrmed Gardner’s suspicion: she had stage two breast cancer. Shereece then met with Paul Yazdi, MD, to discuss her diagnosis, treatment options and prognosis. He explained everything thoroughly and sympathetically, reassuring her that she was in good hands.
Shereece with Dr. Paul Yazi (photo by Elizabeth White)
“I absolutely adore Dr. Yazdi,” says Shereece. “He makes me feel like I’m his only patient, and he is always incredibly generous with his time. That means so much when you’re battling cancer.”
In January 2014, Shereece underwent a lumpectomy and a sentinel node biopsy, which showed no signs of cancer in her lymph nodes. However, just to be safe, the medical team at the BHCC prescribed chemotherapy. Since February, Shereece has been coming to the hospital every three weeks to receive her chemo treatments during four-hour appointments.
“With breast cancer and chemo, there are good days and bad days, but I’m really thankful for the support of the medical team at MoBap’s Breast HealthCare Center,” says Shereece. “They have all been so wonderful and considerate. In fact, I get a call from someone on the team at least once or twice a month to check on me.”
Fortunately, all of Shereece’s breast cancer services — including the 3D mammogram, biopsies, lumpectomy and chemotherapy — are covered by the grant program. Without the support of the program, she wouldn’t be able to afford the cancer care she so desperately needs.
“I was honored to be part of the team that took care of Shereece. Being able to witness her courage and dignity in her ﬁght against cancer is one of the most rewarding parts of my job,” says Dr. Yazdi. “I’m also happy to know that she was helped by the Komen grant program, which brings cancer care to many underserved women throughout the St. Louis community.”
Shereece’s last treatment is scheduled for June 18, four days after the Komen St. Louis Race for the Cure. She is planning to participate in this year’s Race — as one of the survivors.
“This year, the Race has taken on a whole new meaning,” says Shereece. “Thanks to Susan G. Komen and MoBap, I’m getting the help I need to win my battle with breast cancer.”