Breast cancer patient: "I was amazed at all the love and support"

"You're going to get through this," Diana's co-workers kept telling her. "We got your back."

It wasn't long ago that Diana, a nurse's assistant in the McLaren Oakland emergency department, felt a lump on her breast. Thinking it was just a bruise, she didn't pay much attention to it. But a few days later, she noticed it had grown in size.

Following a mammogram and biopsy at McLaren Oakland, she was told it was stage 1 breast cancer and quickly made an appointment with an oncologist. But at that appointment, she was told this aggressive form of cancer had advanced to stage 2.

Taking time off of her schedule to be with Diana at her appointment was her boss, Pam Willis, director of emergency department patient care services at McLaren Oakland.

"We both cried," Diana said. "But then Pam said, "˜Don't worry. We're going to take care of you.'"

Diana would have to undergo chemotherapy treatments twice a month for the next six months.

In addition to the treatments, there was everything else that came with it. But like Pam told her, she was going to be taken care of.

"I was amazed at all of the love and support," the ER worker said. "We not only care for our patients, we care for each other."

Her co-workers took up a collection to help pay some of the household utilities, the house she shares with her husband, son, daughter, son-in-law and four grandchildren. (She was working less, having to take four days off to recover from each chemo treatment.)

Dee, a co-worker, drove from Royal Oak to be with her at appointments and hours-long chemo treatments. She also took her Christmas shopping, paying for some of the gifts so her family could have a nice holiday. She even re-designed her bedroom at home into a more peaceful and relaxing atmosphere.

"She said, "˜We have to make a special room for you at home,' " Diana said. "My husband was speechless. He has never seen anyone go through so much for someone else."

When time came for her to have surgery, she was told about the McLaren Oakland Foundation assistance fund, for which she was eligible for help with copays and deductibles.

"Having this financial assistance was such a relief," she said. "Not having to worry so much about the expenses reduced my stress and not being so stressed out helped me better manage my treatments."

An employee at McLaren Oakland for 21 years, Diana has participated in the McLaren Oakland Foundation employee giving program, regularly giving a portion of her pay to someone who could use some financial help-the same program that now benefitted her.

"I love helping people," she said. "And now they're helping me."

Thankfully, Diana's chemotherapy treatments were successful in containing the cancer and shrinking the tumor to the point where surgeons can operate to remove it.

She will forever remain grateful to everyone who helped and supported her along the way.

To learn more about cancer care at the Karmanos Cancer Institute at McLaren Oakland, visit