"It was the best decision I ever made. My care here was the best I could have had, and I loved that…as much as you can love being treated for cancer, of course!"
— Mary Brookhart

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Mary Brookhart

From Breast Cancer Patient to Survivor and Advocate

At the age of 33, Mary felt generally unwell. She was referred to the Mayo Clinic for further testing. Because of her mother having had breast cancer at a early age, a baseline screening mammogram was ordered as part of the initial visit. This revealed intraductal calcifications within her mammary glands. A biopsy of the breast tissue confirmed that Mary indeed had developed Breast Cancer. For treatment, Mayo Clinic recommended that she remain in Rochester, Minnesota, over 1,000 miles from her hometown.

Instead Mary came home to Conyers, Georgia and trusted a clinic only 33 miles away: Emory's Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University.

While at Winship, Mary was treated by Dr. Toncred Styblo and Dr. David Lawson, both of whom she refers to as her “angels.” When asked about her opinion on her cancer treatment and care specialists with Emory, Mary remarked that she felt she was “always in the best of hands.” “It was the best decision I ever made. My care here was the best I could have had, and I loved that…as much as you can love being treated for cancer, of course!”

Aside from the comfort of expert care, Mary also kept thoughts of her mother’s past and strength close to her heart. When Mary was a teenager, her mother too was diagnosed with breast cancer. Now a happy and healthy 80-year-old woman, Mary looked to her as a source of strength in fighting her own battle with cancer.

The combination of early detection, rigorous treatment and supportive physicians and family allowed Mary to beat her cancer. Two years ago, Mary returned to Winship. This time, not as a patient, but as supervisor of business operations for the Emory Breast Center. As an employee of the Breast Center, she is able to serve as an advocate not only for cancer patients, but for screening mammograms and Emory’s Breast Cancer Seminar for the Newly Diagnosed patient.

Now, those signing up for the seminar call 404-778-PINK and often times find Mary at the other end of the line. Having been a survivor herself, there she is able to catch patients at their entry point and make an immediate connection with newly diagnosed cancer patients in a time when the need it most. Her advice to patients embarking on their cancer treatment journey? “It’s OK to be afraid and mad, and for your emotions to go up and down. Just take it one day at a time.”

Mary is a truly exemplary and commendable breast cancer survivor and we admire her strength and desire to help others experiencing what she went through continue to fight the fight for survivorship.