Dannie Baxter

In November of 2015, Dannie Baxter of Tyler was scheduled for her annual mammogram. She was very busy with preparations for her son Brandon’s wedding, so she rescheduled for March. For Dannie, getting a mammogram was a routine that she didn’t worry about. She had no family history of breast cancer, but her father and brother had been treated for prostate cancer.

A few days after receiving her mammogram, Dannie received a call that Dr. Michael Klouda, the medical director of the ETMC Breast Care Center, had seen something on her mammogram, and he wanted her to come in for a biopsy. “The test discovered I had two tumors and one was 1 centimeter,” said Dannie.

She says she cried and cried. “You are not prepared to hear the words that you have cancer. Right away I thought I had been given a death sentence. Then I pulled myself together, and thanked God that I was still alive and that I was going to fight this.”

Dannie has been a patient care assistant at ETMC Tyler for 40 years. She’s used to being around patients, and trying to lift their spirits and encourage them. She felt comfortable with her caregivers and physicians, because she knew many of them from her work.

In June of 2016, Dannie turned 59, and had surgery to remove the part of her breast that contained the tumors. Luckily, the cancer had not spread to her lymph nodes. “I had a great support system. My daughter, Melinda, and Brandon took care of me until I was able to function on my own. My co-workers called and brought me food, and showed me how much they cared for me.” Also her church family from Greater New Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church helped her.

Then the next month, she began radiation treatment at the ETMC Cancer Institute. “I had 33 treatments, but I was able to keep working. My strongest support came from my faith in God. I had a strong desire to live, and he helped pull me through.”

Dannie believes that God doesn’t give you more than you can bear. She hopes to be an inspiration to others. “Don’t put off your mammogram, because the earlier they catch it, the better your treatment options are.”

For now she’s looking forward to the latest grandchild, who’s on the way, to add to the three she already has. She also plans to keep on working as long as her body allows.

Breast cancer statistics

  • Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women, and is found in one in eight women in the United States.
  • In women under 45, breast cancer is more common in African-American women than white women. Overall, African-American women are more likely to die of breast cancer.
  • About 85 percent of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer.
  • In 2017, an estimated 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 63,410 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer.

Pin-a-Sister program outreach

In 2010, ETMC Tyler launched its Pin-a-Sister program in Tyler. Modeled after a program in Chicago, the campaign uses a strategy that has long been successful in the African-American community: Get the church involved. Breast cancer survivors provide personal testimonies at their home churches. In addition, churches host ceremonies in which women pin each other with pink ribbons and pledge to get an annual screening mammograms. Thousands of African-American women in Smith County have been pinned. The group also hosts a breast summit each fall.

For more information on how to volunteer for the Pin-A-Sister program, call Regina Davis at 903-596-3190.

Early Detection Tips

  • Perform monthly breast self exam starting at age 20
  • Begin clinical breast exams every three years beginning at age 20 and annually after age 30
  • Become familiar with the normal look and feel of your breasts and see your doctor if change occurs
  • Have a baseline mammogram at age 35 to 40
  • Annual mammograms beginning at age 40
  • Consult a physician if you are under age 40 with a family history of breast cancer or other risk factors

Go to the ETMC Cancer Institute page.