Breast Cancer survivor works with Walmart to give back to Phelps Health

Sally Arft. Photo Courtesy Phelps Health

“When I found it, I wasn’t too alarmed about it,” said Arft, a 74-year-old Salem resident. “One time, it felt like it was there, and the next time, it was a little softer.”

After a couple of months, Arft visited her doctor and had the lump checked. “I was told it could be a cyst,” she recalled.

She went to see Dana Voight, MD, a general surgeon with the Phelps Health Medical Group, who performed a biopsy of the lump. The results of the biopsy came back, and Arft learned that she had stage I breast cancer.

“It took me months before I would say the word, ‘cancer,’” she said.

As a woman, Arft has a one in eight chance of getting breast cancer during her lifetime. This means that for every eight women in the United States, one will be diagnosed with breast cancer.

Arft has no history of breast cancer on her side of the family. Her closest relative to have breast cancer was her mother-in-law.

Arft underwent surgeries to remove the lump as well as one of her lymph nodes, to which the cancer had spread.

After the surgeries, Arft was referred to the Phelps Health Delbert Day Cancer Institute (DDCI) in Rolla, MO, where she began receiving care from Radiation Oncologist Christopher Spencer, MD, MS, DABR, who also serves as the medical director of the DDCI and medical director of radiation oncology at the DDCI.

Arft underwent radiation therapy and is now in remission. “I had a mammogram in July (2020), and it’s OK,” she said. “I’m thankful for that.”

Both Dr. Spencer and Dr. Voight are fabulous physicians, Arft noted. “They make you feel so relaxed,” she said.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Arft was attending the breast cancer support groups held at the DDCI, which are now on hold following recommendations for social distancing by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Being diagnosed with cancer and then undergoing treatments is like a roller coaster – in both physical and emotional ways, according to Arft. “One minute, you’re up, and the next minute, you’re down.”

Arft has always had a passion for helping others. For more than 20 years, she worked as a counselor at a rehabilitation and treatment center. She also has been involved in several community fundraisers.

After receiving care at the Phelps Health DDCI, Arft wanted to give back to the organization that helped her as well as raise awareness about breast cancer. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Arft thought of an ideal opportunity.

She worked with Marsha Rana Wayman, CRFE, director of philanthropy with the Phelps Health Foundation, to request a donation from the Walmart store in Salem, MO.

Thanks to Arft’s assistance, the Phelps Health Foundation received a $250 grant from Walmart Giving. This grant will help support Phelps Health programs and initiatives, including cancer-related programs.

“I don’t want anyone to go through what I did, and I thought every little bit helps,” Arft said.

To learn more about breast cancer and cancer care at Phelps Health, visit