Breast Cancer Survivor Helping Others Be Victorious in Their Own Fight

As a fitness instructor, Shawn Becklund has always been passionate about keeping herself and others healthy through proper diet and exercise. So, in 2015, after a routine mammogram eventually led to a breast cancer diagnosis, the mother of two admits to being more than a little surprised, sharing, “I was 45-years-old and in the best shape of my life. Cancer was simply not on my radar.”

As frightening as the news was, Shawn knew what her body was capable of and was determined to fight her cancer with the same tenacity and fierceness she brought to her kickboxing and body combat classes.

“An important first step was finding the right medical team to fight along with me. I had every intention of getting multiple opinions, but the minute I met Dr. Robert Gabordi from St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital I felt instantly at ease. My sister, my best friend, and my daughter all came to that appointment with me and when we left all three said ‘That’s your doctor’.

After that first meeting Shawn never looked back, undergoing a double mastectomy and an intense regimen of chemo and radiation.

“It was all rough. Much rougher than I expected. But I cannot say enough about Dr. Gabordi and all the nurses who helped me get back on my feet. When I was in the hospital after my surgery, I could barely move my arms, couldn’t even take care of going to the bathroom myself.  Those nurses did everything, and I mean literally everything. My medical team at St. Joe’s got me through sixteen rounds of chemo and twenty-nine rounds of radiation and I will never forget the way they cared for me.”

Which is why Shawn vowed to give back to St. Joe’s so others facing a breast cancer diagnosis could receive the same amazing care that she did.

“St. Joe’s didn’t just take care of me physically, they also helped with financial assistance. I’m a single mom and cancer is an expensive disease.  Having to worry about medical bills while you’re trying to fight for your life, it’s not particularly easy. I know people often use the expression it takes a village, but I feel like cancer makes a village because you have so many people rallying behind you and supporting you. You sort of know your family and friends will be there, but to have St. Joe’s in my corner in so many different ways, it made a huge difference. That’s why I felt it was really important to show my appreciation for all that they did for me.”

That’s exactly what Shawn has done every year since 2016, when she started her very first fundraiser in support of Cakes to Cure. Cakes to Cure is a fundraising organization founded by Shawn’s surgeon, Dr. Gabordi, and Miok Ray, ARNP, who are part of the breast oncology team at St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital. Its mission is to raise money through fun and engaging community outreach to celebrate survivorship, assist patients battling breast cancer, and support breast cancer research in Tampa Bay. What started as a few cupcake sales has grown into a successful initiative whose various events contribute 100% of their proceeds to SJWH’s Shimberg Breast Center.

“As soon as I found out about Cakes to Cure I knew I wanted to be a part of it. It’s the perfect opportunity to show how grateful I am by combining two things I am passionate about – fitness and helping others with breast cancer. Beating cancer wasn’t easy but thanks to my doctors and nurses at St. Joe’s I feel stronger and better than ever. I can never truly thank them for giving me my life back, but I will keep doing whatever I can to support the wonderful work being done there. Because just like St. Joe’s, helping people get and stay healthy is what I am all about.”