Tissue recipient, Mary Louis, will represent AATB as a rider on the 2023 Donate Life Rose Parade Float. Mary was nominated for this opportunity by MTF Biologics, an AATB-accredited organization headquartered in Edison, New Jersey.
Mary is an energetic teacher from Baytown, TX, who learned of her breast cancer diagnosis in 2015 while reading the results of her medical testing online on a Friday afternoon. She spent the weekend in turmoil, thinking about what she had just read but unable to ask questions about her diagnosis. An avid runner who practices yoga, and a vegan diet, Mary is the picture of health. Her life had been consumed with teaching students by day and by night. After years of saving, she was finally able to buy a cozy vacation home in the French countryside and wondered how cancer could be affecting her now.
The news became more devastating. Mary had triple negative breast cancer--the most aggressive type of breast cancer-- affecting mostly young, pre-menopausal minority women. Traditional treatments for this type of breast cancer are not effective. After visiting with an oncologist, Mary immediately began chemotherapy and subsequently chose to have a bilateral mastectomy to avoid the possibility of cancer affecting the other breast. A few months later, she scheduled breast reconstruction surgery and decided to use an acellular dermal matrix or donated skin grafts for the procedure. Mary had learned from a cousin that using donated skin grafts was an option to improve the reconstruction outcome, and she believes her surgical results are excellent.
Mary is grateful for her new perspective on life, family, and her donor's gift, which enabled her to feel whole again. As a registered donor, Mary feels honored to be part of the receiving end of this cycle of giving, and the experience prompted her to write to her donor's family to express her gratitude. Today Mary enjoys traveling, running again, speaking to small groups about her cancer journey, and using her story to encourage others to become organ and tissue donors.