Michele Halyard, M.D.
As a child, my mother's breast cancer impacted me significantly. I was only five when she was diagnosed, and I remember that she was gone from our home for several weeks undergoing treatment. At the time in medicine, doctors performed radical mastectomies regularly, meaning they even took the chest muscle wall. I didn't completely understand what was happening to my mother because I was so young, but I instinctively knew that it impacted her significantly. I noticed how she would try to cover her chest whenever anyone was around, to hide the disfigurement caused by the surgery. Medicine has changed significantly since then, but the experience definitely attuned me to the quality-of-life issues that patients face as a result of cancer treatments. That's one of the reasons that I chose Radiation Oncology, and why I focus my research on breast cancer and on quality-of-life issues.
I was involved in the creation of the Coalition of Blacks Against Breast Cancer (CBBC). Within the Phoenix Metropolitan area, there is no group specifically targeting black women and men who have been diagnosed with breast cancer to provide high-quality reliable information and support.
The mission of the CBBC is to provide high-quality, reliable information within a safe and supportive environment, for black breast cancer survivors (defined as anyone who has breast cancer from the time of diagnosis through their lifetime) within the Phoenix Metropolitan area; and to educate the black community about breast cancer prevention, diagnosis, and screening.
The CBBC is a collaborative effort between Mayo Clinic in Arizona and the Phoenix Chapter of the Links, Inc and Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity Gamma Mu Boule Chapter (both African American organizations comprised of professionals dedicated to community service).