Meet UW Carbone's Facebook Fan of the Year: Cindy Gilles
If you follow UW Carbone on Facebook, there is a good chance you recognize the name Cindy Gilles. She comments on nearly every post with beautifully positive, supportive messages.
Picking Gilles to recognize as our "#1 Facebook Fan for 2016" was a no-brainer. When we reached out to her, we had no idea how connected she was to UW Carbone professionally and personally - Cindy worked at the Cancer Center before it was called the Carbone Cancer Center, and she is currently a patient here.
Interacting with Gilles virtually for years and then learning more of her connection to UW Carbone made us want to share her story with our newsletter and social media communities. We are hoping we can show Cindy even a tiny fraction of the appreciation and support she offers the UW Carbone community, and we think our followers would, too.
Gilles worked in the Oncology Clinic as the only Appointment Coordinator from 1986-1987. After returning from her maternity leave, she worked nearly 15 years in the Department of Human Oncology and the Department of Medicine. She even worked with the physician who would later become the Cancer Center's namesake, Dr. Paul P. Carbone. (When confirming the dates with her, she assured us we were wrong because, she said, winking, "of course I am only 30.")
"I really loved working with the cancer patients and their families, as often I was the only person who the families had to speak with as the focus was always the patient by the clinic staff," Gilles said. "This job meant so much to me because I learned that many cancer patients can survive."
Gilles was diagnosed with endometrial cancer in late 2011. She sought the advice of two doctors with whom she worked closely while an employee here, Dr. Howard Bailey and Dr. Paul Harari. She was even involved in recruiting both of them to work at the Cancer Center.
She learned she was positive for the BRCA1 genetic mutation associated with high risks of developing breast and gynecological cancers. She had a complete hysterectomy for the endometrial cancer in early 2012 and a bilateral mastectomy the following year to reduce her breast cancer risk.
In January 2014, Gilles' endometrial cancer returned.
"My husband and I were devastated, because we were told the chances of it coming back were only 8 percent," Gilles said. "Unfortunately, the news was worse than expected; the cancer is terminal."
Just this past June, though, Cindy received some promising news: after being on three different chemotherapy drugs, she was placed on a drug that offered a one in five chance of working. Her scans now show that all of her tumors are shrinking and there are no new ones.
"The reason I am fighting so hard to live is because of my three precious grandchildren who are Roger's and my lives - there is nothing more rewarding than being a grandparent," Gilles said, adding that she also plans on dancing with her oldest son at his wedding next summer.
Through this journey, she has kept a positive attitude and would rather focus on heaping praise on her support network and care team than dwell on her disease.
"The reason I have responded to so many of the Facebook entries is because I have been so blessed," Gilles said. "I have been blessed with the most wonderful husband, our two outstanding sons, our grandchildren, my extended family, so many friends and the wonderful, wonderful medical staff that have supported, loved and prayed for me throughout this entire journey."
Here are some of Cindy's comments gathered from our Facebook page: