Shebyon Bedgood has had a lifetime’s worth of hospital visits. She was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes as a youngster, received a kidney transplant as an adult and later developed urinary tract infections, among other complications. Despite enduring so much already, Shebyon had to overcome yet another major health hurdle: breast cancer.
Shebyon has endured through it all, and her perseverance earned her special recognition as a UCLA Health Laker For A Day honoree this December. But all she ever really wanted was to be healthy enough to spend time with her sister, two daughters and three grandchildren, and so of course she used the opportunity to include them in the experience.
“You can have all the money in the world. You can have all the things in the world – all the fancy cars, all the homes. But if you ain’t got health, you don’t have nothing,” she said.
Shebyon’s family pushed her to seek better care and proved to be the catalyst in her turnaround. When she came to UCLA Health, she was introduced to 11 different specialists, all independently treating her with a variety of antibiotics and medications. Then, last year, UCLA Health launched an initiative for patients with complex conditions called the Extensivist Program, which helped Shebyon receive the comprehensive care she sought.
“If I had the other plan, I know I wouldn’t be here,” she said.
The program brings a group of specialists together to produce a unified care plan. The team includes a primary care physician, medical oncologist, endocrinologist, urologist and students from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
“We went from fractured care, to complete care,” said Shebyon’s sister, Angela Burrell.
Shebyon’s Laker For A Day experience began with what she wanted most: time with her family. Shebyon hosted a family barbecue that included Dr. Sun Yoo, her primary care physician and medical director of the Extensivist Program, and Kevin Noel, care coordinator for the Extensivist Program. As the barbecue ended, they surprised Shebyon with a custom Lakers jersey, three LeBron James jerseys for her grandchildren, and four tickets to the Lakers game against the Phoenix Suns on Dec. 2.
Shebyon brought her sister, brother-in-law and her grandson Javaras, who was celebrating his birthday, to the game. The crowd reception was nothing short of amazing when Shebyon took the floor and shared her story. Javaras also competed in the Half Minute to Win It Challenge – an on-court shooting challenge that gives a young fan a chance to earn a scholarship to Camp Lakers, presented by UCLA Health. To top it off, Shebyon met Hall of Famer Bill Russell and enjoyed a Lakers win!