Across the Years: St. Jude Cares for Three Generations of Breast Cancer Patients

February 14, 2017 Providence St. Joseph Health Team


The year was 1988. 34-year-old Cathy Shircliff was a happily married mother of two young daughters, working as a radiology technician. Then she received the news no woman wants to hear: You have breast cancer.

Unfortunately, early onset breast cancer — which is typically much more aggressive than breast cancers occurring after menopause — is all too common in Cathy’s family. In the 1960s, her mother Arlene was diagnosed at the age of 39. Cathy’s older daughter Kristin was diagnosed a few years ago at the age of 36.

“I can tell you that nothing in the world can prepare a mother for having a child go through this experience,” said Cathy.

Thankfully, St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, California, was here when these women needed it most, with all three diagnosed and/or treated at the hospital.

Cathy, who is currently executive director of Imaging, Non-Invasive Cardiology and Breast Services at St. Jude, is deeply committed to the role that philanthropy plays in the hospital’s ability to provide the best health care possible to our community. She recently pledged $10,000 toward the hospital’s $4.1 million 3D mammography project, which will allow St. Jude to replace all six of its mammography machines with 3D digital Tomosynthesis machines, the most advanced mammography technology available.

Studies have shown that the new equipment will make it easier to detect tumors, especially in dense breast tissue which at least half of all women have. Earlier detection, when cancers are small, makes them easier to treat, resulting in better outcomes and survival rates.

Cathy is committing a gift to this project for the benefit of her family, friends and neighbors. “In light of our family history, it’s very possible that my other daughter, Lindsay, could receive a breast cancer diagnosis one day,” Cathy said. “By helping bring this latest technology to St. Jude, we ensure that every woman who comes in for a mammogram — including my daughters or my granddaughters — has the best chance possible for an early diagnosis and a full and complete recovery.”

To learn more about how you can help St. Jude bring the most current 3D mammography technology available to our community, please contact St. Jude Memorial Foundation at (714) 992-3033. 

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.


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