Joy Restored through Navigation Program


 “It will never happen to me.” Like many women, this was Joy Anderson’s perception of breast cancer for most of her life, until 2015 when everything changed. A few years ago, Joy noticed a lump in her left breast and decided it was time to get a mammogram. She visited the CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Mobile Mammography Unit and after receiving a few mammograms, abnormal results and a biopsy, Joy was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 43 and needed immediate surgery. At the time, she was underinsured, homeless, and unsure of how to process her diagnosis.

Lisa Lopez, certified breast health navigator at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital – Westover Hills, stepped in as a trusted resource and advocate for Joy, helping her figure out next steps and how to manage her medical finances. Lisa was with Joy every step of the way, available to answer questions and to offer peace of mind.

 “After my operation, I decided to stay in a motel for a couple of nights instead of going back to the shelter right away,” Joy added. “I quickly discovered that the pain was too much for me to handle on my own, and I could not change my clothes or bathe myself.”

Joy reached out to Lisa, the one person who had faithfully walked alongside her throughout her journey.

“I called Lisa and asked if she was available to help me,” Joy said. “Without hesitation, she met me at the motel, brought me food, and helped me get cleaned up. I will never forget the selflessness and kindness she showed me.”

Joy is now cancer free and stronger than ever. She views her life as a gift and has recently started kayaking, swimming, singing karaoke, and going to parties.

“I am incredibly grateful for Lisa because throughout my journey battling cancer, she was always there assuring me that I was never alone,” Joy said. “Without Lisa’s help and encouragement, I don’t think I would have had the emotional strength to get through. I see my story as an opportunity to reach others and to offer encouragement in the same way that Lisa encouraged me. My positive attitude and faith in God has gotten me to this place of healing.”


Family's Lives Changed by Your Support

Doreen Wells' granddaughter is a student at Incarnate Word High School, the host of April Fricke's annual Cycling the Sisters' Trail fundraiser and homecoming celebration. To support the school's 2015 breast cancer awareness event, Doreen and her daughter, Dani Mizell, signed up to receive mammograms via the CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Mobile Mammography Unit (MMU), which was on-site at the event that day. 

"My mom and I are both healthy and take good care of our bodies, so neither of us expected to receive abnormal mammogram results," Dani said. "A couple weeks after our screenings, we both received abnormal results and required further testing. I was terrified."

After a diagnostic follow up, Dani's results were clear, but Doreen was diagnosed with breast cancer. 

"I always focus on taking care of my children and grandchildren,"Doreen said. "When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, it came as a shock, but it reminded me that I need to focus more on my own health and well-being,"

Because Doreen's cancer was detected early through the MMU, the cancer was surgically removed in December 2015. She is now happy, healthy, and cancer-free. 

"The service I received on the MMU was wonderful and so appreciated -  I recommend the MMU all the time," Doreen said,"It saved my life!"  





Taking Steps Toward Greatness


Kimberly Castillo, 20  years old, was born with a condition called Spina Bifida, which causes limited functioning of her legs.  At 14 years old, Kimberly began working with
Krista Burroughs, physical therapist at the CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Outpatient Rehabilitation Center. “One of the reasons I chose CHRISTUS Santa Rosa for my therapy is its
aquatics therapy center,” said Kimberly. “When I’m in the water, I feel free and it makes me stronger.”

Kimberly has never let her condition stop her from setting and achieving goals. Although she depends on a wheelchair, Kimberly decided she would strive to walk across
the stage at her high school graduation. “My goal has always been to walk,” said Kimberly. “At times, it felt impossible, but I knew if I kept pushing myself it could happen.”

With the end goal in mind, Krista and Kimberly worked hard to strengthen Kimberly’s body.  The journey wasn’t easy, but with teamwork and dedication, they knew what could be achieved. “I have loved working with Krista,” Kimberly added. “When I feel like giving up, or if I feel like a goal is unattainable, Krista always encourages me and motivates me to push myself.”

After years of therapy and determination, Kimberly shocked family members and classmates as Krista assisted her in walking across the stage at the East Central High School Class of 2015 graduation ceremony.  “None of my classmates had ever seen me walk before, so everyone started cheering and clapping for me,” Kimberly said. “It was an amazing moment and a big accomplishment in my life. I’ve become much more confident, and I know I can accomplish anything I put my mind to.”

Kimberly is currently a student at San Antonio College. Her next big goal? To become a speech therapist for children. 





Meet Patrick

     Patrick is a successful man by most standards. When he's not selling commercial real estate, he's spending time with his wife of 35 years, Patti, and their four children, Anthony, Katie,Tilli and Michael, playing golf at his favorite locations, such as New Braunfels' Landa Park Golf Course at Comal Springs, and giving back to the community. He's always on the go, trying to meet the daily demands that most of us know all too well. For years, Patrick's health was at the bottom of his priority list. 
   On August 3, 2015, Patrick's life took a frightening turn. After ending a hectic week with a lovely Sunday evening meal with his family, Patrick woke up Monday morning ready to tackle another work week. 
   "As I was sipping my coffee and getting ready for my day, I suddenly had severe chest pain, followed by a horrible headache," Patrick said. "Before I knew it, the pain had spread all the way down my left arm."
   Patrick knew something was wrong and even wondered in the back of his mind if it was a heart attack. He told Patti they needed to get to a hospital as soon as possible. Once Patrick and Patti arrived at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital - New Braunfels' emergency room, staff quickly administered an EKG. The results showed he was having a significant heart attack. Patrick was immediately taken to the catheterization lab, where Jason Yoho, M.D., interventional cardiologist, began immediate efforts to save his life. 
   "I didn't realize the severity of my condition until I woke up Tuesday afternoon after surgery," Patrick said. "Patti told me Dr. Camillio had given me the last sacrament."
   Patrick experienced silent ischemia, a reduced blood flow to the heart without any pain that can cause a heart attack with no warning. Dr. Yoho knew he needed to ack fast to save Patrick's life. 
   "He was dying," said Dr. Yoho. "Not only did he have a heart attack, but he had other significant blockages that placed him at a high risk for other complications. In a normal situation, if he hadn't been having a heart attack, he probably would have needed bypass surgery."
   Because of Patrick's chest pain, and an artery that wouldn't remain open, Dr. Yoho first needed to open up the heart blockages, remove the clots in Patrick's arteries, and place two stents before treating his other symptoms. The procedure was intense, but Patrick pulled through, and had an excellent recovery. Many people ignore symtoms and attribute them to common ailments, Dr. Yoho noted. Luckily, Patrick listened to his body and rushed to the hospital, saving his life and improving his long-term outcomes. 
   After six days in intensive care, Patrick returned home and began a three-month physical rehab regimen at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Rehabilitation Services - New Braunfels. Today, he's still keeping busy, 37 pounds lighter and working out four times a week. Patrick says he'll never forget the second chance he was given to make a lifestyle change and he sent handwritten notes to Dr. Yoho and each nurse who cared for him to show them how much he appreciated their dedication. 
   "I'm so very grateful to have been cared for at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa," Patrick said. "I couldn't have asked for more wonderful, qualified physicians and nurses. Everyone went way beyond my expectations of great care." 
   "We all hear about heart disease and think it won't affect us," Dr. Yoho said, "People tend to forget the seriousness of it and what it can mean." 
   Raising awareness about heart disease and heart attacks is very important. Not everyone experiences the classic symptoms, such as chest pain. Roughly one milllion Americans suffer from a heart attack each year. Because many don't recognize the symptoms or shrug them off, they don't make it to the hospital in time. 
   "Don't ignore your symptoms - even if you don't think they're related to heart disease or a potential heart attack," Dr. Yoho added. "Admitting that something was wrong saved Patrick's life and improved his longevity. It's important to remember that you are your own best advocate." 


Meet Laura 

   "You have breast cancer." Those were the words that changed Laura Esparza's life. Laura has worked as a sonographer at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health System for 27 years, conducting breast ultrasounds on women and men with suspicious masses found on mammograms. In 2010, Laura had her annual  mammogram and when the physicians delivered the results, she discovered she was about to enter the toughest journey of her life. 
    "I went in for a routine annual screening at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital - Westover Hills," said Laura. "When I got my results, I learned I had stage two invasive ductal carcinoma in my left breast - I remember the moment like it was yesterday"
     Laura had just helped her beloved dog, Mitzi, battle breast cancer two years earlier. 
    "I often think about my dog's battle because it's a good reminder that cancer does not discriminate. Breast cancer affects both women and men," said Laura. "That's why mammograms are so important. We should all be aware and take precaution. Early detection is key to survival."
     Laura underwent surgery and radiation therapy and was cancer-free just a few months after her diagnosis. Today, she is a 4-year breast cancer survivor.
    "It was a very difficult time for me, but thanks to the support of my family and friends, and my strong faith, I did not let breast cancer control my life. We fought it together," Laura said. "I was blessed to have so much support from everyone at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa - from the Associates to the physicians and my radiologist. They stayed connected and were there for me every step of the way. It made my breast cancer journey a little less difficult."
    Laura says that although it was a tough battle, she sees her breast cancer diagnosis as a gift. 
    "This experience was a gift that allows me to help others by sharing my story," Laura added. "People don't truly understand the journey - the fear, the questions, the uncertainty - unless they've been through it themselves. When I faced my battle with breast cancer, I was the first in my family and didn't have anyone who completely understood what I was going through. I'm so happy to be able to be that person for someone else."
     Laura is a breast health awareness advocate, often helping the Friends of CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Foundation with fundraisers that support the CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Mobile Mammography Unit, most recently speaking at the San Antonio Stars post-game jersey auction fundraiser. 


Meet Amanda

Every Baby Matters Mission      First-time mother Amanda and her daughter Bailey are just one mother-baby pair that has benefited from the Every Baby Matters Mission (EBMM) at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital - New Braunfels. 
     "I was still getting to know Bailey within those first two weeks of bringing her home," Amanda said. "I was overwhelmed and didn't know what to do. The EBMM nurse, Michelle, addressed my concerns, helped me with breastfeeding and also showed me different techniques for burping, sleeping and swaddling. Nothing fully prepares you for a baby, so having help from a knowledgeable, friendly professional in the comfort of my home was so reassuring. Michelle was wonderful!"
     Amanda is more confident than ever and grateful for the reassurance and education she gained from Michelle. "When I was told about the EBMM program at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital - New Braunfels, I didn't hesitate to participate. I've learned so many important skills from Michelle that will help me with Bailey and my future children and that's priceless," Amanda added. "Having her come to our home was so convenient. It's a lot of work to prepare for an outing with a baby, so we were go grateful she could come to us!" 
     The Friends Foundation has been essential in providing funds in support of the EBMM at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital - New Braunfels. Serving nearly 400 patients annually, the program allows new mothers the opportunity for in-home visits by a registered nurse following delivery. The nurse provides educational information on maternal and child health issues and child development, as well as a medical follow-up for mother and baby. The EBMM program is a free service available to high-risk parents, ranging from teen mothers with pre-term babies to those with feeding or social issues. The ultimate goal is to gain sufficient funding from the community to be able to expand the EBMM and make it available to all new mothers. 



Read about about the work of the Friends Foundation and what we're doing to make a difference.