"The staff at SGMC made my experience as painless as they could. They were all awesome!”
VaKesha Mays favorite hobbies are reading and teaching Zumba. After a night of teaching Zumba classes, Mays returned home and settled down for the night. As she sat down to read a book, she felt a lump. She knew something was not right. The next morning she called her OB/GYN and was told to come in and be seen. Mays would have a biopsy done and on July 3, 2014, at the age of 38, she was diagnosed with Stage 2A Invasive Ductal Carcinoma — breast cancer.
“When the surgeon, Dr. David Retterbush, told me I had breast cancer, I shed one tear. I immediately wanted to know my options and what was going to be best for my son and me,” says Mays.
In the coming weeks she would meet with Dr. Retterbush, Plastic Surgeon Dr. Sonya Merriman and Pearlman Cancer Center Medical Oncologists Dr. Jennifer Dallas and Dr. Eric Anderson to discuss her plans to fight this cancer. She chose to have a bi-lateral mastectomy with reconstruction at South Georgia Medical Center plus receive chemotherapy and radiation treatments at the Pearlman Cancer Center. “The staff at SGMC made my experience as painless as they could,” she says, “they were all awesome!”
As an academic coach in the Valdosta City Schools and mother to her 14 year old son, Jalen, Mays knew this process would be difficult. “I didn’t want to uproot my life. My main objective was to keep Jalen stable,” she says. “I gave the Pearlman Cancer Center and Dr. Jennifer Dallas a chance and once I did, there was no doubt this was the place for me.”
VaKesha credits the Pearlman physicians and staff for a personable approach. “If I have a question, they have an answer,” she says.
Her family and friends have been amazing through this whole process as well, “My mama, Annette Ervin, drives down every weekend to clean and grocery shop for me,” says Mays. Between William Hollimon, the love of her life, and the Valdosta City Schools she has not had to worry about much. Their love and support has been outstanding from meals they have provided to having things for her to do while she is undergoing chemo treatments.
While Vakesha is still undergoing chemotherapy treatments, she is still able to be there for her number one priority, Jalen. “I attend as many football and basketball games as I can,” she says.
- Adapted from a November 2014 print article