SAN ANTONIO – Mary McBride, a local two-time cancer survivor, had quite the celebration planned this year for her 45th birthday last week; however, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, everything changed.
After being self-isolated and quarantined for long weeks at a time, she got discouraged and resorted to a virtual call with friends.
That is, until McBride’s healthcare team at Brooke Army Medical Center stepped in to plan a celebration. Her healthcare team organized a surprise drive-by birthday parade that caught McBride completely off-guard.
“I wanted to bring a little joy to Mary on her birthday,” said Bianca Rodriguez, BAMC breast nurse navigator, in a statement. “When you are a cancer survivor, celebrating life events, such as a birthday, is huge. It’s another year, but it’s something many of us take for granted.”
The parade happened Saturday last week. McBride was indoors relaxing until she heard dozens of cars honking outside.
Both McBride and her mother went outside and watched as more than 30 cars circled their cul-de-sac. The drivers called out birthday wishes while also waving balloons, signs and streamers.
“I saw people from the clinic and across the hospital; people that didn’t even know me. The cars kept on going,” McBride said. “My mom and I were both in tears.”
The parade was expected to be smaller; however, word spread across the hospital and the turnout went beyond expectations.
“So many healthcare professionals gave the gift of time over the weekend,” Rodriguez said. “For these extremely busy providers and leaders, there’s no greater gift they could have given at this challenging time.”
McBride has defeated breast cancer twice over the last few years, according to BAMC officials.
She was first diagnosed in 2017 after a routine mammogram. Although the disease was caught early, McBride’s doctors recommended a mastectomy due to health issues that wouldn’t allow for a more minor procedure, as she was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus, according to BAMC officials.
McBride also suffered a stroke that left her bound to a wheelchair. She was unable to undergo radiation treatments, BAMC officials said.
She had a mastectomy and the operation was successful. However, after another routine mammogram in 2018, McBride received the news that she had cancer in her other breast. The good news was that it was also caught early.
She had a lumpectomy and has been cancer free since 2018, according to BAMC.
“When Mary had her second cancer scare, I recall thinking, ‘Why Mary?’” said Rodriguez in a statement. “She’s such a beautiful, positive human being and has been through so much. But cancer is never fair and it doesn’t discriminate.”
McBride hopes to celebrate with her family and friends in person next year, but this year’s celebration was one for the books.