Komen St. Louis’ 2015 Community Partner of the Year: MoBap’s “Reaching the Underserved” Program

We are fortunate to work side by side with committed health care professionals and organizations that provide quality breast health care to women, men and families in our community. These partners dedicate themselves year-round to provide breast cancer screening, breast health education and patient navigation and support services to individuals in need in the St. Louis region.

Theresa Taylor of the Missouri Baptist Breast HealthCare Center accepts the Komen St. Louis 2015 Community Partner of the Year Award from Komen St. Louis Executive Director Helen Chesnut

Theresa Taylor of the Missouri Baptist Breast HealthCare Center accepts the Komen St. Louis 2015 Community Partner of the Year Award from Komen St. Louis Executive Director Helen Chesnut

The recipient of the 2015 Komen St. Louis Community Partner of the Year Award is committed to supporting the mission of saving lives and ending breast cancer forever. We were delighted to present this award to Missouri Baptist Breast HealthCare Center’s “Reaching the Underserved” Program at our 6th Annual Power of the Promise luncheon.

With funding from Komen St. Louis, this program provides increased access to breast screening and diagnostic services, along with breast health education and outreach.

Through the Reaching the Underserved program, a mammography van travels throughout the area, including many rural communities where women may not otherwise have access to mammograms. Through the program’s educational component, individuals throughout our community learn the importance of early detection of breast cancer.

2015-2016 is the 14th year of Komen St. Louis funding for this program.

Congratulations to Missouri Baptist Breast HealthCare Center and all involved with the “Reaching the Underserved” program! Thank you for your year-round effort!

Susan G. Komen® St. Louis and The Breast HealthCare Center at Missouri Baptist: Partnering Together to Help Women in Need Region Wide

The fear of breast cancer is something that’s haunted Jodi Roberts, 49, of Fredericktown, MO, for nearly 30 years. “It’s like I’ve been living my adult life, constantly looking over my shoulder, just waiting for it to find me. Deep down, I always knew it would show up someday,” she said.

Jodi has a strong family history of breast cancer. Two of her aunts battled the disease. One survived, and the other didn’t. Jodi’s mother was diagnosed at the age of 44, and elected to undergo a mastectomy of the one breast. However, the cancer soon returned in the other breast. This time, it was much more invasive, leaving her with a grim prognosis. Sadly, she lost her battle at age 46.

Jodi Roberts

Jodi Roberts

Jodi was only 21 at the time, but she remembers it well. “It was hard to watch my mother suffer from breast cancer, but it also reminded me that I needed to be proactive when it came to my own breast health,” she said.

Jodi kept her commitment to her health, undergoing mammograms every year, starting when she was in her thirties. Due to financial constraints, Jodi has relied on the services of the Missouri Baptist Medical Center digital mammography van and the hospital’s “Reaching the Underserved” program.

Funded by a Susan G. Komen® St. Louis grant for the past 13 years, the Missouri Baptist Breast HealthCare Center’s “Reaching the Underserved” program provides the hospital with resources to support uninsured and underinsured at-risk women (ages 40 to 64) throughout the region. Services are provided at the hospital’s main campus in Town & Country and on its digital mammography van, which travels to neighborhoods across St. Louis and rural towns throughout Missouri. Follow-up breast health services are provided at Missouri Baptist for women with mammography abnormalities.

“Jodi started undergoing her annual screening mammograms with our outreach program in 2010,” said Theresa Taylor, an outreach coordinator for the Missouri Baptist Breast HealthCare Center and a two-time breast cancer survivor. “With our program, we educate women by emphasizing the importance of early detection and how annual mammography screenings can save your life, especially someone like Jodi with such a strong family history.”

In September 2014, Jodi had her annual mammogram on Missouri Baptist’s digital mammography van when it traveled to Fredericktown. A couple weeks later, she received a letter indicating there was an abnormality in her left breast, which required further testing. So Jodi underwent a diagnostic mammogram and an ultrasound; however, the results were inconclusive. That’s when the medical team at Missouri Baptist recommended a biopsy.

Theresa Taylor

Theresa Taylor

On December 5, 2014, Jodi was told the news she had feared for almost 30 years: she had breast cancer. “Even though I wasn’t surprised about my diagnosis, I was still nervous about what was to come. I’ve seen the effects of breast cancer firsthand,” said Jodi.

Jodi then met with Paul Yazdi, MD, FACS, a breast surgeon and surgical director of the Missouri Baptist Breast HealthCare Center, to discuss her diagnosis, treatment options and prognosis. Although Jodi’s breast cancer was stage zero, it was also triple negative, so hormone treatments weren’t an option.

“After watching my mom suffer, I knew having a mastectomy would be the best decision for me. I also didn’t want to take any chances, so I opted for a double mastectomy,” said Jodi. “The last thing I want to worry about is having it come back in the other breast like it did with my mom.”

Dr. Yazdi supported Jodi’s decision, and on January 13, 2015, he performed a successful bilateral mastectomy on Jodi. Her recovery went very smoothly with no issues. More importantly, the breast cancer was contained within the ducts and completely removed. “I am really lucky, because we caught it early. I am living-proof that early detection saves lives,” said Jodi.

Jodi’s breast cancer services – two mammograms, ultrasound and biopsy – were covered by the Komen St. Louis-funded “Reaching the Underserved” grant program. Without this program, Jodi would not have been able to afford the cancer care she needed.

“I am very grateful to the medical team at MoBap’s Breast HealthCare Center. They made the entire process so much easier, holding my hand from the very beginning, explaining all of the treatment options, and helping me find the financial support I needed,” said Jodi. “And of course, I am very thankful for my wonderful husband, Lee, who has been my rock throughout this entire journey.”

The future looks bright for Jodi. Thanks to regular screenings, she is confident that she avoided the same fate as her mother. She is also confident that her daughter, Amanda, 26, will be just as proactive about getting her annual mammogram when the time comes. Jodi hopes that by sharing her story, women – including those who are uninsured and underinsured – will better understand the value of annual mammograms. According to Jodi, “it’s the best defense in the fight against breast cancer.”

“I am blessed to be in this position to offer these breast health services to so many women in need in our local and rural communities,” said Theresa. “Jodi is a great example of how the money raised for Susan G. Komen St. Louis is invested directly into our community to help those who need it most.”   

What Komen St. Louis Funding Can Do: Shereece’s Story

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)

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)

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.”