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Our Patients Say it Best

Your friends and neighbors from throughout southwest Michigan and beyond share their experiences at Spectrum Health Lakeland. Do you have a story to share? Click on the "What's Your Story" button and complete the form. 

Feb 22, 2023 Reporting from Niles, MI
My community helped me beat breast cancer twice - Carolyn Jones
Feb 22, 2023
Despite her commitment to a healthy diet and frequent exercise, Carolyn Jones was surprised by a breast cancer diagnosis – not just once, but twice. “I prided myself on being a mom, wife and friend who educated others on how to live

My community helped me beat breast cancer twice - Carolyn Jones

SpectrumHealth Lakeland

My community helped me beat breast cancer twice - Carolyn Jones

Feb, 2023

Physicians: Gerald Kozuh, MD

Despite her commitment to a healthy diet and frequent exercise, Carolyn Jones was surprised by a breast cancer diagnosis – not just once, but twice. 

“I prided myself on being a mom, wife and friend who educated others on how to live healthy,” Carolyn said. “Breast cancer runs in my family, but we never discussed the disease or talked about our risk of getting it.”

As a 75-year-old woman of color, Carolyn’s risk of death due to breast cancer was higher than many others. Black women are 40% more likely to die of the disease and twice as likely if they are older than 50, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). 

“My husband and I were eager to be educated on breast cancer treatments by my doctor and from doing our own research,” she added. 

They decided she would have a lumpectomy to remove the cancerous breast tissue in the city of St. Joseph, so that she could get quality health care close to home. 

Carolyn enjoyed 14 years of good health following her treatments before the cancer resurfaced. Based on her previous experience with a Corewell Health South facility, she felt comfortable getting treatment at Marie Yeager Cancer Center for chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Carolyn said she received exceptional care from oncologist, Gerald Kozuh, MD.

“I appreciated Dr. Kozuh for taking the time to address all of my questions and concerns throughout my care journey,” Carolyn said. “He was very knowledgeable and reassuring.”

Through 36 radiation treatments and multiple chemotherapy sessions, Carolyn was supported by several friends and family members who she calls her “guardian angels.” She found strength in the Strong Women of Faith Breast Cancer Support Group, a local resource for Black women and others at high risk for breast cancer. Group members encouraged her throughout the cancer treatments. The supportive sisterhood helped Carolyn stay active by joining her for water aerobics, drumming classes, community events, talks at local cafes, dance classes and outdoor walks.

“The medical care I received helped me beat breast cancer twice, Carolyn said. “But it was the support of my family, friends and my faith that got me through it. I never felt alone.”

Now Carolyn strives to provide that same kind of support to others because the service of giving and motivating others helps her heal as well. As an advocate for healthy living, she shares her story and encourages women of all ages to care for their bodies. She also volunteers at the Marie Yeager Cancer Center to make a difference in the lives of breast cancer survivors and women who are most at risk for the disease. 

“If I can help or cheer somebody with a word or song, then my living shall not be in vain,” Carolyn said. 

The wide disparity in breast cancer death rates between Black and white women likely reflects fewer cancers being diagnosed at early stages, as well as less access to high-quality treatment. According to the ACS, breast cancer can often be treated and cured when detected early. At 40, women should begin annual screenings with a mammogram every year.

“I’m a believer in helping others by bringing out the healthier sides of themselves,” Carolyn said. “We must continue to educate and support our community, so they become aware of diseases like breast cancer early on.”

Call 800.791.2810 or schedule your mammogram through MyChart.

Learn more about detecting breast cancer here.

Watch more of Carolyn's story in the video below: 


*American Cancer Society


Cancer disparities in the Black Community. American Cancer Society. (n.d.). Retrieved November 9, 2022, from


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