You may have heard a lot about Doris Ward in the past. In the Bay Area, the name's nearly as recognizable as Willie Brown. She started her life in public office nearly 30 years ago as Trustee for the San Francisco Community College District, became a County Supervisor in 1980, President of the Board of Supervisors in 1990 and finally moved on to spend the last 10 years as the San Francisco County Assessor before retiring last year.
But what you may not know about Doris Ward is that she's also a cancer survivor.
It started several years back when she was visiting her childhood home in Indiana. Asleep in bed, she awoke to feel a big lump in her right breast. She wasn't used to doing regular self-examinations at that time, because she felt her yearly mammograms were protection enough.
After one hospital checked her records and initially gave her a clean bill of health, Doris still wasn't satisfied.
"They told me I had nothing to worry about, and I said, 'I don't care. There is something wrong here,'" she recalled.
A biopsy finally confirmed her worst fear. She had breast cancer. That's when she called a friend who is a doctor to ask his advice.
"I said, I have breast cancer, and who would you recommend I go to? He said, the best in the nation — Dr. Laura Esserman."
Before long, Doris Ward was being assessed at the UCSF Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center.
"They gave me options, and we made decisions about my health care together. And I felt very good about it. They support the patient 100 percent, and with that kind of support there is no reason why you can't make it."
It worked. After a lumpectomy, chemotherapy, radiation and the removal of 16 lymph nodes from under her arm, Doris Ward has been cancer free for five years.
She now helps other people through their own journey with cancer by sending them information and helping them understand their options. Doris said her faith helped a lot, but so did UCSF Medical Center.
"You can't get through this without confidence and a positive attitude," she said. "The entire team at UCSF helped me with that, and I'm very grateful."
Story written in September 2004.
Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center
1600 Divisadero St., Second Floor
San Francisco, CA 94115
Phone: (415) 353-7070
Fax: (415) 353-7050