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From Caretaker to Patient: Gracie DaSilva’s Story

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It’s a special calling to care for those with cancer. Whether it’s sharing what to expect during treatment, offering financial support resources, coordinating transportation or simply being there to hold a hand, our oncology social workers play a vital role. Just ask Gracie DaSilva.

An oncology social worker at our AdventHealth Waterman Cancer Institute, Gracie is trained to assist patients and their families during every step of their cancer treatment, from diagnosis to remission and at every step in between — a journey that she knows well.

Gracie poses outside the AdventHealth Cancer Institute

Gracie’s cancer story began at the age of 18 when she lost her mom to breast cancer. It was then that she decided to dedicate her career to supporting people impacted by cancer. Her dream was to ensure no one had to face this disease alone.

Gracie never imagined she might one day be the one receiving a cancer diagnosis, but on January 12, 2023, she learned she had breast cancer at the age of 41. “It was a surreal moment; I was now the one being prayed for and comforted. I was now a cancer patient,” she said.

Gracie getting her head shaved

“As a licensed oncology social worker, I’ve been part of countless conversations with my patients — discussing treatment plans and resources. But I don’t think anyone can be prepared to hear the words ‘you have cancer,’” she said. While Gracie has always been enthusiastic and dedicated to her work, she now has a fresh perspective because of her diagnosis, and openly shares her journey with her patients. “I had surgery here [at AdventHealth Waterman], I received chemo here — alongside patients, who are now friends,” she said. “I lost my hair here, all while helping patients battling their own diagnoses. For the first time, I truly knew what they were experiencing.” While she helps patients, her work is also helping her to heal. The patients help get her through, along with her loving husband, Ryan, and their two daughters, Isabella, 17, and Alyssa, 10.

Gracie's family kissing her head

Gracie said, “I trust my care team with my healing journey. I know they will give their all so my daughters won’t have the devastating experience of losing a mother to cancer like I did.” The team of caregivers, Gracie included, at our AdventHealth Waterman Cancer Institute provides award-winning cancer care, healing patients in body, mind and spirit. As a National Accredited Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC), our patients can access information about clinical trials, new treatments, genetic counseling and patient-centered services like care navigation. Nearly 18 million Americans live with cancer. Almost everyone knows someone who has been touched by this disease. For Gracie, her cancer diagnosis has changed her life. It has strengthened her faith, fostered resilience, provided a renewed appreciation for life and given her a unique perspective for future patient encounters.

Gracie undergoing treatment

“As a social worker, I have witnessed firsthand the impact AdventHealth Waterman Foundation has on patients by providing support, education and resources,” she said. “Thanks to donors in our community, we can remove hurdles while also providing compassionate cancer care treatment using state-of-the-art equipment.” Every day, lives are changed at AdventHealth Waterman. Our patients are your friends, your neighbors, your loved ones. Maybe even you. Your charitable, tax-deductible donations to our AdventHealth Waterman Foundation help patients heal. Your gift, no matter the size, makes a significant impact. By standing with people like Gracie, you are giving hope to those currently facing this disease and inspiring a new generation of advocates. Your donation means we can continue to improve the lives of our Lake County friends and neighbors with cancer. We can work together to ensure everyone has an opportunity to prevent, detect, treat and, most importantly, survive cancer. Give today to our AdventHealth Waterman Foundation, and rest assured that your donation will go far.

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