A 2-year-old boy squirms in his mother’s lap and fusses while she tries to answer her doctor’s questions. But Rebekah Gaudet doesn’t mind having her son, Dylan, in tow during follow-up visits with her orthopaedic surgeon.
It wasn’t long ago that the idea of coming out on the other side of a cancer diagnosis, marrying her sweetheart and starting a family seemed almost too much to ask for.
“I call him my miracle baby,” Gaudet said. “There were times when I didn’t know if I’d be lucky enough to become a mother.”
Gaudet felt pain in her left arm and visited a walk-in clinic in Tallahassee in 2006. She was diagnosed with a malignant tumor in her humerus, the long bone that connects the shoulder to the elbow. She was referred to UF Health Shands Hospital.
C. Parker Gibbs Jr., M.D., a UF College of Medicine orthopaedic oncologist, removed the tumor — along with Gaudet’s shoulder, rotator cuff and humerus. He returned mobility to her arm by reconstructing her shoulder and replacing the bone in her arm with one from a donor.
“There’s nothing that’s restricting me,” said Gaudet, 30, who travels to Gainesville for annual check-ups. “I just live a normal life.”
Gibbs focuses on limb-salvage surgery in children and adults with bone and soft tissue sarcomas of the pelvis and extremities. He is one of fewer than 200 surgeons nationwide considered an expert in this field.
He works closely with UF Health orthopaedic surgeons, pathologists, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, oncology nurses and other support staff to create optimal treatment plans customized for each patient.
Brandi Nunn, R.N., UF Health orthopaedics oncology nurse navigator, met Gaudet when she was diagnosed.
“I remember her mom being really nervous about the treatment process for Rebekah,” Nunn said. “I had to reassure her that it would be OK. We were going to take care of her.”
Nunn said as an oncology nurse, she is an advocate for her patients.
“I have to know when to speak up for my patients because, ultimately, I want to get them the best care in the best way possible,” she said.
Gaudet said she’s thankful for Gibbs and his team. She said without them, she may not be here today.
Gibbs said, “To watch Rebekah go through her treatment, survive her treatment and her cancer, and then move on with her life and have a beautiful baby boy … it’s the reason we do what we do. To see things like that happen.”
Statistics from the first month of our new brand campaign, No Two Alike:
- TV commercials ran 702 times
- NoTwoAlike.org was visited 34,178 times
- Facebook videos were viewed 103,056 times
Become a UF Health brand ambassador by visiting bridge.UFHealth.org/no-two-alike to learn more about the campaign:
- Watch the commercials
- See behind-the-scenes photos
- Find answers to FAQs
Visit NoTwoAlike.org, our public website, to learn more about the patients and care providers featured in the campaign. Please share this resource with patients, friends and family!