Thrive by IU Health

February 25, 2024

Breast cancer survivor gives back to honor her caregivers

Breast cancer survivor gives back to honor her caregivers

“My fear of medical procedures has always been a crippling obstacle for me,” Katie Ayres said.

When Katie learned, in early 2023, she would undergo a biopsy due to an abnormal mammogram, she said, “I felt like I was drowning.”

Her anxiety was eased the moment she walked through the doors of the IU Health Joe and Shelly Schwarz Cancer Center.

“As I checked in, the sweet ladies at the front desk already knew my name,” she said.

The result of her biopsy confirmed her worst fear, and she was upset when it came time to meet with her surgeon, Dr. Folasade Imeokparia.

“When I arrived, my tears were so heavy I could hardly see the person checking me in. My anxiety about meeting the surgeon was so strong,” she said. “Then, the most intelligent, warm, confident woman I’ve ever met walked through the door. Dr. Imeokparia explained my case in the most understandable, self-assured, compassionate and skilled way.”

A couple weeks later, on the day of her surgery, Dr. Imeokparia again put Katie and her family at ease.

“She reassured me and boosted my confidence beforehand,” Katie said. “My family said she had a long visit with them, explained everything and answered all of their questions.”

Katie’s surgery went smoothly, other than a bad reaction to the chlorhexidine used during surgery prep. It caused her torso to break out in bright red hives. Again, Dr. Imeokparia was by her side.

“She knew the hives were painful and my incision was still fresh,” Katie said. “Her humanity helped me through a painful, scary circumstance.”

Katie felt every clinician on her care team, from the surgeons to the nurse navigators, went above and beyond for her and each other. She wrote to her team to let them know how much each of them mean to her.

“They continue to be my anchor, and they’ll always be etched into my heart and mind,” she said. “They saved my life.”

She’s also giving back financially to help other patients. Katie and her husband Trent have pledged a gift to IU Health Foundation to support the Schwarz Patient Assistance Fund, which can be tapped to provide transportation, cover medication gaps and meet other needs identified by care teams.“I want to make sure other Hoosiers facing a cancer journey like mine have the best possible care,” Katie said. “I couldn’t have asked for better care during my time at the Schwarz Cancer Center.”

To join Katie in making All the Difference, make a gift on the IU Health Foundation website, email Senior Development Officer, Leigh Ann Erickson or call 317.373.0142.

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