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 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
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.