“I think a lot about my experience there,” said Taylor, who lives in Holt. “Sometimes when I get down, I remember that somebody took care of me. They were very caring. It’s only right to show that love back.”
Taylor was diagnosed with breast cancer in June of 2015, shortly before her 55th birthday, after her daughters convinced her to get some medical tests she had been postponing. “After the first mammogram I got they said, ‘Well, we want you to come back,’” Taylor recalled. The timing was fortuitous. A follow-up mammogram and biopsy revealed that the lump in Taylor’s breast was Stage 0 cancer, meaning that it had not yet spread into the surrounding breast tissue.
The Sparrow Cancer Center is a full-service center, offering oncological surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and drug therapies. But the Caregivers there don’t simply address the physical needs of their 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.
Trina Taylor gives the Sparrow Cancer Center credit not only for curing her cancer, but also for improving her job skills as a home caregiver to people with mental disabilities.
“The Nurse, (Sparrow Breast Health Navigator) Sharon Cosgrove, 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 attended Wainwright Elementary School and Dwight Rich Middle School, then graduated from Harry Hill High School. She has two grown daughters and one granddaughter, who’s 10.
Her family, Taylor said, is a key component of her life: “Family is very important. Without family you have no structure, no guidance. They’re there when friends aren’t. When friends have turned their backs on you, your family’s always there.”
Taylor’s belief in God is another cornerstone of her life. Referring to the Sparrow Cancer Center she said, “I believe God led me there. I had no fear because I put my life in God’s hands.”
Taylor’s work involves caring for clients with developmental disabilities. Her overall goal is to help them become more independent and better able to function in society.
Some clients are frightened by the prospect of being out in the world. Taylor tries to get them to feel more comfortable in crowds. 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.
Sparrow’s Timothy McKenna, D.O., performed the lumpectomy on Taylor. Afterward, Taylor underwent 18 sessions of 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 offers this advice: “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.”