Breast cancer survivor becomes caregiver thanks to Sparrow

Trina’s Story

Trina Taylor of Holt, Michigan received a breast cancer diagnosis in June 2015, shortly before her 55th birthday and after her daughters convinced her to get medical tests she had been postponing. 

After the first mammogram Taylor got, the doctors called for a follow-up examination. The timing was fortuitous. A follow-up mammogram and biopsy revealed that the lump in Taylor’s breast was stage 0 breast cancer, meaning that it had not yet spread into the surrounding breast tissue.

“I think a lot about my experience there,” Taylor said of Sparrow. “Sometimes when I get down, I remember that somebody took care of me. They were very caring.”

Sparrow Herbert-Herman Cancer Center is a full-service cancer center, offering oncological surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and drug therapies. Sparrow is also dedicated to providing compassionate care to every person, every time. The Caregivers don’t simply address the physical needs of Patients. They also work hard to instill hope in a caring, healing environment by empowering Patients emotionally and arming them with all the information they need.

She recalls feeling numb when the Nurse Navigator informed Taylor of her cancer. 

“The Nurse told me … ‘You do have breast cancer,’ and I just kind of sat there with a blank stare on my face. She said, ‘Trina, are you OK? Did you hear me … I’m wondering because you’re just kind of numb.’ It really didn’t hit me until I told my older sister. And then I just broke down and cried.”

Taylor was born in Lansing and grew up on the west side of the city. She has two grown daughters and describes her family as a key component of her breast cancer journey.

Taylor gives Sparrow credit not only for curing her cancer, but also for improving her job skills as a home Caregiver to people with mental disabilities. Her overall goal in her work is to help them become more independent and better able to function in society. The most rewarding aspect of her work, she said, comes in knowing she’s helping someone.

“I love to help people,” she said, “because I know when I needed help people were there for me. That’s very important and it makes you feel a certain way in your heart.”

Taylor has had more than her share of medical challenges. By age 50 she was diagnosed with high blood pressure and suffered a mild stroke. She also had Bell’s Palsy and West Nile Virus, the result of a mosquito bite, and meningitis, along with a severe case of shingles. But the cancer diagnosis was the biggest threat she faced.

After undergoing a lumpectomy, Taylor underwent 18 sessions of breast cancer radiation radiation treatment, and is currently on hormone therapy. Today, she’s cancer free.

“Thank you, Jesus,” she said, “and thank you, Sparrow.”

Based on her experience, Taylor encourages women to receive mammograms. While professional groups differ when it comes to screening recommendations, many women begin mammograms at age 40 and have them every one to two years. The American Cancer Society recommends that women age 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year, and women 55 and older should switch to mammograms every 2 years, or can continue yearly screening.

“Get your mammograms, ladies, because we need them. You need that early diagnosis … The earlier the better, so when your doctor recommends it, go ahead and get it.”

The Herbert-Herman Cancer Center features a multi-disciplinary team approach that puts the Patient at the center of everything we do. Patients will see a team of clinicians under one roof and in one visit, rather than making separate appointments with specialists from different practices. Each Patient will receive an individualized treatment plan with input from numerous specialists. Each major cancer has its own clinic, such as breast, lung, and colorectal cancer.

Sparrow is transforming care through innovation such as the region’s only cancer genetics counselor and access to cutting-edge clinical trials. The Herbert-Herman Cancer Center is home to the largest clinical trials program in the region and the only one accepting Phase 1-3 clinical trials not accessible to Patients anywhere else locally.

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