In the days and weeks after August 29, 2021 – the day Hurricane Ida made landfall as a Category 4 storm, a dedicated team of employees at Terrebonne General | Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center who were able to navigate their way to the facility, worked around the clock to maintain patient care. As limbs and debris covered much of southeast Louisiana and those with power considered themselves lucky, these employees were tasked with making sure any storm-related interruptions were minimal.
“It was a Herculean effort,” said Amy Boudreaux, director, Terrebonne General | Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center. “People were leaving their own families to come into work. Some didn’t even have a home to go back to.”
Many put their personal recovery efforts on hold to prioritize the Cancer Center’s operations. With Ida knocking out the answering service and a round-the-clock, humming generator providing power, a group of five medical oncology employees were able to return Wednesday – just three days after the storm – to begin coordinating treatment plans.
“We were still trying to reach all of our patients,” Boudreaux recalled.
As the recovery effort unfolded, more and more team members made it their mission to get back to work. Some who had evacuated out of state left their families to return to Houma. With the help of Terrebonne General Health System, who made it a priority to get the Cancer Center back up and running, some patients were able to return to the facility just eight days after Ida unleased her destruction.
“It was all about putting patients first,” Boudreaux said. “It was amazing. That’s how much the staff cares about the patients we take care of.”
Almost no one was spared from the storm. In some way, shape or form, everyone was dealing with some impact.
“The whole town was trying to come back from this,” Boudreaux said. “We were able to come back in eight days. How resilient are we? How powerful as a team are we? We managed to get through this hurdle.”
For months, the area would be a shell of itself – businesses closed, events cancelled. But knowing how critical cancer screenings are, the Prevention on the Go team pulled off a miraculous endeavor – hosting its first post-storm screening event in the Bayou Region less than two months after landfall. The breast and colorectal screening came at a crucial time, too. With October being breast cancer awareness month – highlighted by Mary Bird Perkins’ flagship, month-long fundraising campaign, Geaux Pink – the timing could not have been more important.
It wasn’t just the staff at Terrebonne General | Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center determined to salvage some of the month. Generous partners and donors knew more than ever their support was needed.
Morris P. Hebert, Inc., a surveying, engineering, environmental services, GIS, and remote sensing service provider, first began participating in Geaux Pink in 2013 – and haven’t missed a year in the decade since. In total, since 2012, MPH has raised more than $18,000 for Terrebonne General | Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center. Sure, the post-Ida endeavor was unlike any that came before it. The bake sales, chili cook-offs and other large-scale events Morris P. Hebert, Inc. typically hosted, with funds going to Terrebonne General |Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, were not possible, but that didn’t mean the organization was going to quit.
“Breast cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in women in the United States and our MPH team is determined to continue bringing awareness by supporting Geaux Pink no matter what circumstances may come our way,” said Claudia Munoz, manager, human resources, Morris P. Hebert, Inc.
Instead, employees were encouraged to participate in ‘pink day’ at their offices. $3 was donated for each pink item that an employee wore. The creative backup plan showed Morris P. Hebert, Inc.’s commitment to supporting local cancer patients, free breast cancer screenings, education programs and early detection initiatives, through Geaux Pink.
“MPH, Inc. has been committed each year to join the fight against cancer during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October and we will continue to find ways to participate in Geaux Pink,” Munoz said.
Geaux Pink, presented by Super Chevy Dealers, is a signature fundraising program that encourages individuals, schools, restaurants, businesses, sports teams, etc. to join in the fight against cancer during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. To donate or host your own Geaux Pink event, visit marybird.org/geauxpink.