Volunteer Spotlight

volunteerKim Rodriguez

In 2009, I had just started a new job in oncology and was training over breast cancer, when my mother mentioned to me that she felt a lump in her left breast.  She is deaf, so it was difficult to explain what was happening.  My brother and I did not know how we would pay for this journey our mom was about to embark on. While I was still new at my job, I was able to reach out to nurse navigators to find funding. Donations to Komen are given to local grantees – one being Moncrief, which began the diagnostic portion to confirm mom’s diagnosis. From there, everything began to fall into place with other Komen community partners to assist with treatment.

Mom was diagnosed as a stage 3B with a rare and aggressive type of breast cancer known as inflammatory breast carcinoma. As soon as I was called with the diagnosis, I already knew the doctors I wanted on her treatment team because I had met many of them through cancer conferences at the hospital. She immediately began neoadjuvant TCH with Dr. Pham. The day that my best friend and I took her to get her hair shaved, we cried and she consoled us, telling us it’s just hair and it will grow back. What strength! After 6 cycles of chemo, she went for a modified radical mastectomy with Dr. Chow. No residual disease! She healed from surgery and began her daily radiation treatments with Dr. Shide. Mom waited until 2013 to undergo DIEP reconstruction with Dr. Habash. It has been a very long journey, with many ups and downs, but through it all, we stuck together as a family and we are glad to say that today our mother remains cancer-free.

While my brother and I cared for our mom during her treatments, we were both working full time, and I was juggling school. We could not have been able to get through it all without the support of our community, the healthcare providers, the various local Komen-supported programs, family and friends. I am amazed to see how my job became a blessing, and how it would help me to understand our mother’s disease process. It was hard, because I also knew that she would become a patient in the hospital where I worked, but it also gave me confidence that things would be all right. Our mother’s fight has been an encouragement to me to continue working in oncology. It has been almost 6 years now, and I love my job more than ever. I have since changed hospital systems, and that has allowed me to focus my energy on breast cancer. Since that time, I have been able to help lead our hospital through the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC), which awards accreditation to breast programs of excellence in care; I participate in breast disease studies and research projects at the hospital; and I work on a fantastic team to ensure we are producing quality data on breast patients that is reported up to the National Cancer Data Base (NCDB). All of the work done in our department will help researchers improve cancer care and find better treatments.

When I originally started in oncology data management in 2009, I did not know where things would lead. I had no idea that the few connections I made at the hospital would be so pivotal in helping me find resources for my mom. I began to understand how important Komen is, and how my involvement in the community would change the care the patients receive. In 2010, I participated in my first Fort Worth Race for the Cure. By the next year, I was leading the hospital’s RFTC team, and being a participant in the race every year after that. In 2013, Komen of Greater Fort Worth formed the Young Professionals (Komen FWYP) group, and I knew I had to be a part of it. I have been serving in the capacity of Survivorship Committee Chair. We support all activities that the Fort Worth affiliate has, and also fundraise to continue fighting the disease. I have a deeper understanding of Komen, from both sides – as a recipient of their generosity, and volunteering for the organization. Through my personal and professional experiences, I have been able to guide friends to the right resources. Knowing that there are groups out there for those fighting breast cancer, makes a world of difference when you are about to face a lot of uncertainty. Komen helped save our mother’s life… now, I want to help as many people as possible to save their loved ones, too. It is an honor to serve at Komen, and I plan to until we find a cure.

Go to Top