Houston Methodist Breast Care Center at Sugar Land Mammograms Save Lives

Sindhu Nair, M.D., Brendolyn Herbert, Clive Shkedy, M.D., Michelle O’Shea, M.D., Natasha Bradley and Patrick Prath, M.D.

COVER STORY  |  Photos by Kelley Sweet Photography –

Teamwork and compassion enable the Houston Methodist Breast Care Center at Sugar Land to help two local women overcome their cancer diagnoses.

Brendolyn Herbert was in good health. She exercised every day and watched her diet. With no family history of breast cancer, she never worried that it might one day impact her life.

Natasha Bradley was healthy, too, and like Herbert, she had no family history of breast cancer. But breast cancer found both women, and like so many others, they quickly found themselves in a fight for their lives.

“I never expected to get that news,” Herbert said of her diagnosis. “It was a big shock.”

Fortunately, both Herbert and Bradley had a full team of experts by their side – the physicians, nurses and staff at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital.

Compassionate, Personal Care

Herbert skipped her annual mammograms during the COVID-19 pandemic. But in early 2022, she decided it was safe to return to the hospital. When her exam revealed a lump in her breast, Herbert was referred to Michelle O’Shea, M.D., board-certified surgeon with Houston Methodist Breast Surgery Partners at Sugar Land, for further evaluation.

A follow-up MRI discovered another, smaller lump, though a biopsy later determined that only the first one was cancerous.

Herbert was scared, but O’Shea gave her strength. “Dr. O’Shea is so compassionate,” said Herbert. “She has such great relationship skills; she really becomes your friend. She put me at ease from the very first day and made herself accessible to answer any questions I had throughout my treatments.”

Herbert had surgery in late March to remove her tumor and surrounding lymph nodes. “I was up and out walking the next day, trying to get my exercise in,” she said.

Hebert later began 24 radiation treatments with board-certified radiation oncologist Clive Shkedy, M.D. and completed those sessions in early July. She continues to see Sindhu Nair, M.D., board-certified hematologist-oncologist with Houston Methodist Oncology Partners at Sugar Land, for ongoing care.

“It’s been a journey, but I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by people who are so caring,” she said. “Everyone at Houston Methodist Sugar Land treated me like royalty, and I will always love them for that. They treated me, the person, rather than just my specific cancer, and this made the difference for me.”

Collaborative Approach is Powerful

“The heart of the Houston Methodist Breast Care Center at Sugar Land is an experienced, multi-disciplinary team that works together to develop individualized care plans that meet each patient’s unique needs,” said O’Shea. “This includes everything from surgery, radiation and chemotherapy to nutrition, physical therapy, emotional support, financial assistance and a survivorship program.”

After diagnosis and throughout treatment, team members share information and ideas to ensure that every aspect of care is being considered and included. Along the way, physicians and staff provide ongoing guidance and help, with specially trained nurse navigator Rose Gonzales facilitating appointment scheduling, serving as an information resource and connecting patients to valuable services.

Those specialists are supported by the latest and most sophisticated 3-D mammography technology and fellowship-trained breast imaging radiologists.

“Our collaborative approach is powerful,” said Shkedy. “It is entirely possible to defeat breast cancer, but you can’t do it alone. It takes a team of dedicated people working together. From that first moment of diagnosis, we are standing by our patients’ sides to help them regain their health and rebuild their lives.”

In addition to comprehensive care, Houston Methodist Sugar Land is accessible and convenient. Everything a patient needs is available on the hospital’s campus with easy access and free parking.

“Having everything a patient needs under one roof is a major benefit for our patients and gives us an advantage in diagnosing breast cancer at the earliest stages, which provides the best chance for complete recovery – all at one location close to home,” said Nair.

Cancer-Free and Feeling Good

Clive Shkedy, M.D., Patrick Prath, M.D., Natasha Bradley and Michelle O’Shea, M.D.

Natasha Bradley had gone in for a well-woman checkup in late September 2021, and had her first-ever mammogram. She had noticed changes in her breast months before but assumed that they weren’t serious.

The decision to finally seek a doctor’s opinion saved her life – because by the time of her mammogram, her cancer had progressed to Stage 3. “Everything moved very quickly after that diagnosis,” said Bradley.

When her care team reviewed the details of her breast cancer, they confirmed that starting treatment with chemotherapy would protect her survival from an aggressive plum-sized tumor and potentially allow her breast to be saved by shrinking the tumor before surgery.

So, Bradley underwent two different regimens of chemotherapy with board-certified hematologist-oncologist Patrick Prath, M.D., one prior to the new year and one after.

“At the beginning of that second regimen of chemotherapy, Dr. Prath told me that the tumor had basically disappeared,” said Bradley. “I couldn’t believe it.”

Chemotherapy was challenging, but her care team made it as easy as possible. “Dr. Prath was amazing,” she said. “He would come in and check on me, and he was always so compassionate.”

After giving Bradley’s body a chance to recover from chemotherapy, O’Shea removed what was left of the tumor – a growth now roughly the size of a pin head – along with nearby lymph nodes and other tissue during surgery. Two weeks later, Bradley began radiation therapy.

Eventually, she would receive 35 radiation treatments with Shkedy, one every day, five days a week, for seven weeks, ending in late July.

“I would recommend Houston Methodist Neal Cancer Center at Sugar Land to anyone,” she said. “The doctors and nurses all treated me so well. Everyone was just phenomenal, so kind and empathetic.

“Best of all, I am cancer-free. I feel like a new woman now,” she said.

The Message is Clear: Don’t Put Off Your Mammogram

Clive Shkedy, M.D., Brendolyn Herbert and Michelle O’Shea, M.D.

“Cancer screening guidelines recommend an annual mammogram for women ages 40 and above,” said Prath. “Getting a mammogram is an important part of good breast health management and should be part of your health care priorities.”

Both Herbert and Bradley have a strong message for other women: Don’t put off your annual mammogram.

“Make sure you go and have your annual check-up,” said Bradley. “Don’t self-diagnose like I did.”

“No matter what’s going on in the world or what you have going on in your life, get your mammogram done every year,” said Herbert. “Early detection will save your life.”