Mother and daughter support one another in cancer battles

Just a few months after the birth of her son, Catherine Worley was fighting alongside her mother in their twin battles against cancer and the side effects of treatment. Read story

Transcript

Catherine Worley, Breast Cancer Patient: “We were so excited for the birth of our son.”

Narrator: “A journey into parenthood…”

Catherine Worley: “He was just precious.”

Narrator: “Catherine Worley had been longing for…for years.

Catherine Worley: “We had been trying for a while to have a baby.

Narrator: “With the help of fertility treatments, she and her husband, Scott, welcomed their first child, Weatherby, into the world on May 31st, 2018. But, shortly after heading home as a family of three, Worley felt something was off.”

Catherine Worley: “The first week into his birth I started having what we thought were lactation issues.”

Narrator: “She saw several specialists, in Austin who prescribed her medication for an infection.”

Catherine Worley: “It didn’t fix it. They sent me to have a mammogram – came back clear.”

Narrator: “So did an MRI.”

Catherine Worley: “At that point, everyone just kind of washed their hands of it. They said, I just think when you decide to stop breast feeding, this is going to go away.”

Narrator: “But the discomfort didn’t go away. While on a family vacation in Colorado, Worley noticed one of her breasts changing color. Instead of driving back home to Austin, she went to UT Southwestern Medical Center to visit Dr. Barbara Haley – the same doctor who was treating her mom for breast cancer since her diagnosis just four months earlier.”

Catherine Worley: “I looked at her and I said, ‘So are you telling me I have inflammatory breast cancer and she was like, ‘Yep. You do.’”

Narrator: “Words this brand-new mom never thought she would hear.”

Catherine Worley: “We went from three months before with the birth of our son being completely elated and so happy to a very intense low.”

Narrator: “Now, forced to take a different journey…Worley, with her mom, Peggy, by her side, started her treatment consisting of six rounds of chemotherapy.”

Catherine Worley: “The mother daughter cancer journey is not anything you’d ever want to walk down together (laughing). But if you have to, I’m very grateful to my mom for her guidance.” 

Narrator: “Another helpful tip she was given…”

Catherine Worley: “I didn’t know at all about the cold cap until my mom found out about it.”

Narrator: “…was the opportunity to hold on to her hair.”

Catherine Worley: “I wanted to have my hair for me. It’s a huge morale boost when you look in the mirror, it does give a sense of normalcy to your day when you’re out and about and it’s been a really wonderful gift.”

Dr. Barbara Haley, Professor, Internal Medicine: “Any patient, any age, when you look in the mirror you might not really identify who that person is. We don’t see ourselves without hair, basically.”

Narrator: “UT Southwestern now offers the newest version of the cooling cap system designed to prevent hair loss.

Barbara Haley: “If you can apply the cooling uniformly then there will still be some thinning, but it may be as little as about 25 percent.”

Narrator: “With her self-confidence intact this young mother is turning a heartbreaking diagnosis into something inspiring.”

Catherine Worley: “We were very lucky to have found it early. This is a chapter in my story, this isn’t my whole story. I have a six-month-old baby who I can’t wait to watch grow up and have a wonderful full life and I want to be here to see all of that.”