Aug. 13, 2008 12:00
Recently I attended the grand opening of the Breast Center of Acadiana on Camellia Boulevard, owned and operated by local radiologist Dr. Gary Mathews. As I watched the ceremonies, I realized there was someone physically missing from the group.

I first met Gary approximately 11 years ago, when my dear friend and life partner, Elaine M. Junca, worked side by side with him as his nurse at Women’s & Children’s Hospital Breast Center. They were an unbelievable team to know. It was a blessing to witness first hand the many lives they touched in this community.

Sadly, on May 11, 2003, Elaine lost her own battle with breast cancer. As we all grieved the loss of Elaine, Dr. Mathews kept Elaine’s dream alive. Three months after her death, Dr. Mathews led the team in the renaming of the WCH Breast Center to The Elaine M. Junca Breast Center. He remained the medical director of the breast center, and Elaine’s hopes and dreams continued.  

Elaine cared for and loved all of her patients and always strived above and beyond for them to receive the best health care possible. That’s what Elaine and Dr. Mathews believed in and gave to their patients in the Acadiana community.

That legacy continues today. I am sending a very big thank you and congratulations to Dr. Gary Mathews and his staff at the new Breast Center of Acadiana for keeping Elaine’s hopes, dreams and legacy alive. Had she survived, there is no doubt in my mind she would still be a part of Gary’s team, continuing to make a difference and strive for everything that’s best for her patients. I know this is where her heart would be.

Although I felt someone was missing from the group at the grand opening ceremonies, it didn’t take me long to realize the truth — that Elaine is here, smiling down from heaven on this wonderfully talented group of people, and she is there with them in spirit every day, still making a difference.

She was truly one of the most wonderful, and influential, people I have ever known.