Patient Story Cooper Pierce and Ford

With the daily responsibilities of family and work, an annual mammogram may not always make it to the top of many women’s to-do lists. However, the simple screening may reveal lifesaving information, as Charlene Copper-Pierce discovered in 2014.

Working as the director of a childcare center in Easton at the time of her diagnosis, Copper-Pierce, who is now 56, had long relied on the UM Shore Regional Health team to perform her mammograms. “I have been getting mammograms there every year since I turned 35, and they had all turned out well until 2014,” said Copper-Pierce. “That is when they discovered the lumps.”

Dr. Roberta Lilly, Medical Director of the Clark Comprehensive Breast Center, diagnosed Copper-Pierce with HER2-positive breast cancer. This form of the disease is characterized by growth-promoting protein on the outside of breast cells. Cancers classified as being HER2-positive are known for their ability to grow and spread more quickly than other forms of breast cancer.

“Before chemotherapy, you are brought in to discuss your treatment plan, and that is when I met my chemotherapy nurse and a social worker,” Copper-Pierce said. “I had been very anxious, because I did not know what to expect. But they both put me at ease.”

Today, Copper-Pierce is feeling healthy and undergoes maintenance-based chemotherapy every three weeks. In addition to serving as director of the Mid-Shore Early Learning Center, she is a member of the Talbot County Early Childhood Advisory Council and the Maryland State Child Care Association.

“Being diagnosed with cancer gave me courage and strength that I did not know I had,” Copper-Pierce said. “My family and my spirituality have kept me positive and motivated, and I hope to offer that same inspiration to others. I strive to find the good in people and in situations.”