HealthBuddy Check 6


How this pastor’s wife is helping others after her biggest fear came true

Posted at 9:03 PM, Mar 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-06 23:17:08-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- On any given Sunday, the choir and band gets the congregation at Cedar Street Baptist Church in the spirit. On the second pew is Dr. Taleshia Chandler.

The pastor's wife has spent most of her life praising and praying, but her unshakable faith is facing its biggest test.

"I did go through that stage of feeling depressed," Chandler admitted. "Feeling like God was picking on me."

Dr. Chandler, who is affectionately called "Lady C" at Cedar Street Baptist Church in Church Hill, noticed something did not feel right in late 2014.

"My right breast just felt thick. It looked different and it felt different," Chandler explained.

Dr. Taleshia Chandler

Dr. Taleshia Chandler

In February of 2015, she had a mammogram and an ultrasound. Then she had both tests again in May, but the results again came back negative.

When she began having unbearable back pain, she had an MRI in August of 2015 and doctors found something else.

"Cancer has always been one of my biggest fears. If I see a commercial about cancer, anything about cancer it always frightens me," Chandler said.

Part of that fear came with watching her grandfather die of prostate cancer. Now, the mother of three was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer, which had also spread to her liver and bones.

Her diagnosis came the day before her oldest son was starting college.

"All I could think about was my husband and my children and thinking at [age] 42, I didn't want want to leave them," she said.

Shortly after the grim diagnosis, Pastor Anthony Chandler released a video message to his church. He told the congregation about his wife's cancer, her upcoming chemotherapy treatments and asked for their support and prayers.

"We believe nothing happens on accident. Everything happens on purpose," Pastor Chandler said in the message.

Dr. Taleshia Chandler

Dr. Taleshia Chandler

With the eight rounds of chemo, came the weakness, the low moments and the hair loss.

"One of the hardest part," she said. "It was kind of you know in the morning you're getting ready and literally have clumps of hair in my hand."

Dr. Gilda Cardenosa

Dr. Gilda Cardenosa

Dr. Gilda Cardenosa, a radiologist with VCU Massey Cancer Center, did not treat Dr. Chandler, but knows of similar cases.

"While I'm a huge believer in mammography, I will be the first to tell you it's not a perfect test," Dr. Cardenosa said.

Dr. Cardenosa said sometimes the tumor can be too small to detect. She believes breast MRI is the superior test, but added that the downside is the high cost that insurance may not cover. Additionally, an injection is needed.

However, Dr. Cardenosa said a woman knows her body best and can push for what she wants.

"If you feel like there's something wrong with your breast, do not give up," Dr. Cardenosa warned.

In her nearly seven month journey, Dr. Chandler believes her purpose is to share her story.

"I went from, 'Why me,' to 'Why not me,'" she said. "[I] understood it really wasn't about me, but perhaps God chose to allow me to experience this so I can help somebody else."

Dr. Chandler, who is responding well to the chemo, is now receiving a more targeted therapy. In fact, she said she has more energy and has even returned to work at Richmond Public Schools.