Colleagues provide Bauer power
For Gail Bauer, getting an annual screening mammogram was routine - until this past December.
That's when radiologist Eric Kater, MD, noticed some calcium deposits in the 51-year-old's X-ray and recommended further testing. The deposits were so small that Bauer would have missed them in a self-exam. Often breast calcifications are benign, but some patterns can indicate cancer.
In February 2011, Bauer, who has worked in Radiology at Via Christi Hospital on Harry since 1983, was diagnosed with a very early stage of breast cancer. She underwent a partial mastectomy, followed by six weeks of radiation therapy.
As she underwent radiation, two things gave her comfort: her close friends and colleagues in the Radiology department at the Via Christi Hospital on East Harry and running.
"You could not ask for a better friend," said Patty Aldrich, CT manager at the hospital on East Harry. "If you need a friend, she's there for you."
So it was their turn to be there for Bauer, she said.
"They eased my mind so much," says Bauer of her co-workers, who looked after her mental health, provided meals and helped change her dressings.
Bauer, a still-active former college athlete and recreational runner, continued to do three- to five-mile runs during her radiation treatments - down only slightly from her five- to six-mile average.
"Dr. Jon Anders, my radiology oncologist, said my running was one of the things that helped me," Bauer said. "It kept up my mental and physical health so that I had very few side effects from the radiation."
Bauer, a full-time speech-language therapist with the Sedgwick County Educational Cooperative and part-time CT technician at Via Christi, missed only two weeks of work while undergoing treatment.
"She's a real workhorse," said Aldrich.
To honor Bauer, her Via Christi colleagues organized the Via Christi Presents Bauer Power team for this year's Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. The 60-member team raised nearly $1,700 to support the Komen Foundation's efforts to provide mammograms to the medically underserved, educational programs to promote early detection and other cancer support, including research.
The team's symbol was a handmade pink felt rose. When Bauer was undergoing treatment she had thanked some of her colleagues with a similar rose she'd crafted herself.
Bauer was one of more than 700 breast cancer survivors participating in the Race for the Cure.
"I am so blessed that they caught it early," Bauer said. "In retrospect, treatment was a piece of cake as compared to what it could have been."