Until her early forties, Sandra Goldman led a relatively normal and healthy life as a wife, mother of four, and working professional. It was during a routine screening mammogram at the age of 42 that she would begin a 10-year battle with breast cancer and, in the process, become a champion for women battling the disease.
In 2010, Sandra was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer and underwent a single mastectomy, followed by four rounds of chemotherapy. After five years of hormone therapy, she was officially declared cancer free in December 2015. Shortly after, Sandra noted some discomfort in the same area and a diagnostic mammogram confirmed that her cancer was back. This time it had invaded her pectoral muscle. Led by Dr. Julie Fisher at Levine Cancer Institute, Sandra’s care team aggressively treated the local breast cancer recurrence with 16 rounds of chemotherapy and 30 rounds of radiation. She was diagnosed and treated for a third time in June 2016. Now ten years after her initial diagnosis, Sandra is battling her fourth round of breast cancer, all while raising funds for Levine Cancer Institute: Project PINK.
Despite multiple diagnoses, Sandra maintains a positive outlook and has spent much of her life devoted to philanthropy and volunteerism, supporting countless women’s health initiatives and being actively involved with Hadassah, the world’s largest women’s volunteer organization. A patient of Levine Cancer Institute for more than five years, Sandra recently learned more about the Levine Cancer Institute: Project PINK program, and its mission to increase access to life-saving mammography screenings immediately resonated with her.
“Project PINK is actively addressing social disparities in our own backyard,” shared Sandra. “Unfortunately, too many women are uninsured due to job loss or inability to afford coverage. Because of this, women aren’t receiving important annual checkups or screening mammograms, like the ones that have helped save me. Many women are delaying treatment until it’s too late. Programs like Project PINK are crucial to ensuring early detection is available to women in our community.”
This winter, Sandra wrote a personal letter to friends and family requesting donations to LCI: Project PINK. Already, she has raised more than $32,000 to support the initiative. Sandra’s advocacy for women’s health recently earned her an Atrium Health “Pink Partner Pinnacle Award.” Mellisa Wheeler, MHA, Director of Disparities and Outreach at Atrium Health Levine Cancer Institute, presented the award to Sandra in November 2020.
“Sandra is unlike anyone I have ever known,” shared Mellisa. “Resilient and steadfast, genuine and kind, curious and compassionate, she is a champion for humanity. She carries a heart ten times bigger than most and isn’t afraid to exercise that heart muscle. Her incredible efforts to support Project PINK, in the midst of her own storm, have created the space for at least 100 women in desperate need in Iredell County to get a potentially life-saving mammogram. It is for this and so much more that we created the Pink Partner Pinnacle Award – to honor her courage, her tenacity and her grace.”
Sandra’s advocacy has also inspired others to creatively give back. In January, her friend Meryl Hunte hosted a virtual cooking class through her local business, Connecting Kitchen, with a portion of proceeds benefiting LCI: Project PINK. Meryl shared, “I love the way food brings us together and being able to support an important cause like Project PINK made this even more rewarding. Making healthy and healing foods, like the Soto Ayam Bali Chicken Soup we made together in our class, is another important part of staying healthy. It meant a lot to help give back to a cause which means so much to my friend.”
Throughout her breast cancer journey, Sandra is thankful to have found a second family within her care team at Levine Cancer Institute. “Having spent so much time at the hospital, I’ve really gotten to know everybody at LCI,” she said. “They really are my family away from family, and I’m incredibly grateful to everybody that has worked on my behalf to keep me alive – to be my war heroes – and feel fortunate to have this world-class hospital right here in Charlotte.”
A devoted mother, loving wife, loyal friend, firm believer, dedicated professional, thoughtful volunteer, health advocate and cancer warrior, Sandra is an inspiration to women everywhere. On behalf of her Atrium Health family, we are deeply grateful for her kindness and generosity which will improve health, elevate hope, and advance healing for women in our region.
*Featured cover photo taken by Peter Safir