During a routine mammogram in 2015, Elaine Baer was diagnosed with breast cancer. This came as quite a shock, as she went into her annual screening expecting everything to be normal – like always. But it was not. The radiologist spotted a tumor and delivered the dreaded words no person wants to hear: “You have breast cancer.”
Once Baer had digested the full impact of this diagnosis, she went in search of a breast oncologist. She asked around and was overwhelmingly referred to Alejandra Perez, M.D., director of the Braman Family Breast Cancer Institute at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center – Plantation, a part of UHealth – the University of Miami Health System.
Dr. Perez led her treatment plan, which included surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, to a successful outcome. Baer says she could not have been happier with her decision to choose Dr. Perez and the renowned Braman Family Breast Cancer Institute at Sylvester.
“Dr. Perez is a wonderful doctor – so compassionate and caring,” said Baer. “Going to the hospital to be treated was scary, but with Dr. Perez and her team I always felt like I was going to visit friends, not a clinic. Everyone is so warm and friendly, and they genuinely care about you.”
While Baer speaks so highly of Dr. Perez, the feeling is mutual.
“With breast cancer you follow the patient for life to make sure there is no recurrence. Our patients become family and with the Baer family I definitely feel that. They are incredibly special,” said Dr. Perez, adding that she is especially appreciative of the philanthropic support the family, owners of Baer’s Furniture, has shown to Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center over the years.
Making a Commitment
With family matriarch, Elaine, and others close to her, now under the expert care of Dr. Perez, the Baers are further committed to supporting breast cancer awareness and research. Baer’s Furniture is launching an in-store campaign with a major commitment to Sylvester, the only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center in South Florida. Baer’s has also pledged to donate to the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, which is the only other NCI-designated cancer center in the state.
“We are in an industry that values home, comfort, and, most important, family. This disease has impacted so many families, including our own, that we will do everything in our power to help find a cure,” said Jerry Baer, president & CEO of Baer's Furniture Company, Inc. “In addition to committing a portion of our sales proceeds, we encourage our customers to support the research efforts being done here in Florida at these renowned breast cancer centers to find a cure for this disease that affects one in eight women.”
Throughout October, Baer’s Furniture customers will be able to scan a QR code in the store to donate.
“Every customer who makes a $50 donation or larger will receive a special gift from Baer’s as our way of thanking them for supporting this worthy cause,” added Baer.
This commitment from the Baer family will allow Dr. Perez and her colleagues to continue valuable research into breast cancer treatment options and risk reduction.
"We are so appreciative of the continuing support of the Baer family," said Sylvester Director Stephen D. Nimer, M.D., who is also the Oscar de la Renta Endowed Chair in Cancer Research, and a professor of medicine, biochemistry, and molecular biology at the Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. "It is the extraordinary generosity of families like the Baers that helps accelerate our pursuit of the leading-edge therapies and treatment options that will improve the outcomes for patients battling breast cancer."
Early Screening Advocated
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women. It is estimated that about 30 percent of newly diagnosed cancers in women this year will be breast cancer.
This is why Dr. Perez says it is vitally important that every woman know her risk. She implores all women to have a discussion with their physician.
“Based on your risk, you can develop a plan. Is an annual mammogram enough? Depending upon your situation, you might need more careful monitoring with an ultrasound or MRI, or you may need to start your screenings at a younger age,” Dr. Perez said. “If properly monitored we can find cancer early, and an early diagnosis means a better chance of survival.”
That’s something Elaine Baer supports wholeheartedly as a breast cancer survivor.
“I am honored that my family is able to support research to find a cure, but until one is found we need to build awareness and educate women to take care of themselves," she said. "Early detection saves lives.”
To learn more about Baer’s efforts to support breast cancer research, please click here Miami.edu/BaersCares