Beyond the Badge

For Michele Taylor, breast cancer awareness is personal

Woman holds a breast cancer awareness pink CDCR patch.
Michele Taylor, a breast cancer survivor, holds a Pink Patch in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

After surviving a breast cancer battle, Michele Taylor, a retired annuitant, has an appreciation for October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Taylor started her career with CDCR in 1979 as a typist at Folsom State Prison (FOL).  In 1980, she became a Correctional Officer and worked her way up the ranks to Correctional Sergeant and then Correctional Lieutenant in 1995. Most of her time was at FOL with brief stints at the Richard A. McGee Correctional Training Center (CTC) and the Northern Background Investigation Unit (BIU).

Parallel to the rise in her career, Taylor found herself fighting for her life after she discovered she had a common, but very aggressive, form of breast cancer called Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC). 

At the time of her diagnosis, 33-year-old Taylor was working as a Sergeant/Range Master at the CTC, and raising her 10-year-old daughter. Her family had no history of cancer so the news came as a shock.

Taylor endured surgery then fought through an excruciating 11 months of chemotherapy along with 7 weeks of radiation therapy. 

Approximately a year after her diagnosis, Taylor was back at work, cancer free. She went on to thrive in her career, medically retiring in 2002 as a Correctional Lieutenant. In 2005, she returned to the department as a retired annuitant and has been with CDCR Northern BIU ever since.

This year, Taylor celebrated 28 years of being cancer free. A huge feat for her and her family.  When asked what message she would share with staff statewide who have been directly/indirectly affected by this menacing disease, she recommended getting a second opinion if you feel something is not right.

“Find someone to talk to and have a support system,” she said. “Don’t give up. You have to be more stubborn than it is.”

She credits her family, daughter, and partners with giving her strength to overcome this disease, while also sending her prayers and consistently checking in on her.

Taylor, a devoted grandmother, is tenacious.

As for cancer, she said, “I had it. I won. It didn’t. It’s been a long time and I am still winning.”

Employees can find cancer support groups by contacting the Employee Assistance Program.

Additional resources:

Story by Lt. Vanessa Melendez


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