16-year survivor: A breast cancer diagnosis helped me find my life’s purpose

I’ve been helping people get around at MD Anderson since 2002. First, I drove the ground shuttles that travel between our buildings at the Texas Medical Center Campus. Then, I became a dispatch team leader. And in 2011, I started driving the shuttle carts that connect our buildings along the skybridge. Over the years, I’ve probably heard hundreds of our patients’ cancer stories. I never thought I’d have one to tell myself. But I was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer in October 2003, less than 12 months after I started working here. And it was a scary walk, but I feel like I’ve finally found my purpose: giving hope to others. My breast cancer diagnosis I had a little lump in my left breast for years. But I’m one of those people who thinks, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” And it never bothered me, so I just left it alone. Then I started feeling sharp pains in my chest. They weren’t very frequent, but they were striking. Sometimes they felt like labor contractions. One day, the pain was so severe that it brought me to tears. I went to my doctor, and he ordered a mammogram. It showed a suspicious growth in my left breast. He ordered a biopsy. The results showed I had invasive ductal carcinoma, a type of breast cancer. The doctor said it was stage IV. So, I went to MD Anderson’s Nellie B. Connally Breast Center. My breast cancer treatment At MD Anderson, I met with medical oncologist Dr. Abenaa Brewster, radiation oncologist Dr. Eric Strom and surgical oncologist Dr. Barry Feig....