Science Saves: Valerie | Memorial Sloan Kettering

2 years ago
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In 2014, Valerie was diagnosed with locally advanced breast cancer. In this short film directed by award-winning filmmaker David Gelb, see how science not only saved her life, but allowed her to continue her journey as a wife, mother, and special education teacher.

{partial transcript}

I love the idea of being able to impact someone’s life, to change it forever. I wanted to be that teacher for my students so that when they graduate, I want them to go back and say: “Mrs. Hamilton always told me that I was valuable – that I have value and worth in my life.”

I was here in this room and I remember I was leaning on the wall. And I sobbed. And sobbed. Because, I felt afraid. And because I didn’t want to leave here – I didn’t want to leave my children; my husband; my mom and dad; my sister; my brothers and my friends.

Valerie came to see me as a second opinion. She said: “Well, I’ve been diagnosed with cancer and I’ve been told that I need a mast-… mastectomy.” And she couldn’t even get the word out.

Well, when I was first told that I needed a mastectomy, and that it would be the removal of the breast, you don’t really know what to say. You’re sitting there listening and hoping that they’re making a mistake.

I don’t know that I felt more fear than she did, but I was definitely afraid. I was afraid because she’s a colleague, she’s a woman, she’s a mother, she’s a teacher, but…. she’s also my friend.

The first thing I said to her was: “Why do you need a mastectomy?” She explained that the other doctor she had seen had told her this was her best course.