Throughout her life, Rev. Dr. Trinette V. McCray has always pursued her ‘calling’ – her purpose to help others. 

A Milwaukee native who grew up attending Milwaukee Public Schools, Trinette was called to enter the ministry in 1979. A lifelong member of Milwaukee’s faith community, she earned a master’s degree from Morehouse School of Religion, Doctor of Ministry degree from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, and worked at Cardinal Stritch University for 23 years, where she served as a Campus Minister and the Executive Director of the Center for Calling and Engagement before retirement.

Three years following her retirement, Trinette received an unexpected diagnosis, which led to a new calling and a new community to serve. 

“I had extreme bone pain and fractures,” says Trinette. “My mother had rheumatoid arthritis, so I assumed I had the same. When I went to the doctor for a check-up, the physician assistant suggested that we do an x-ray of the nodules on my lungs – and the results came back suspicious, likely that it was cancer. I had an appointment with a doctor the next morning, who asked if I had ever heard of multiple myeloma.” 

Multiple myeloma (MM) is a rare and currently uncurable cancer of the plasma cells, which are white blood cells that make antibodies to fight infections. These abnormal plasma cells build up in the bone marrow and form tumors in many bones of the body. The disease can permanently damage organs and weaken bones and is 2-3 times more common in African Americans. 

“I had never heard of multiple myeloma,” admits Trinette. “When a person gets a diagnosis of cancer, there is probably no greater sense of vulnerability that comes into one’s heart. I was given two to five years survival.” 

Following her diagnosis, Trinette was referred to the Clinical Cancer Center at Froedtert Hospital.

“When I arrived at Froedtert, I knew that I would be given the best and greatest possible care by people who know and are prepared to care for me. Just by the names of the clinics – Faith Clinic, Courage Clinic – I knew that they understood the vulnerability that their patients are experiencing. I love being in the clinic called ‘Grace,’ which for me theologically means an unmerited gift of divine favor. As a person who believes that God places you where you need to be, I believed that I was faithfully following God’s plan in accepting the care that I would be given at Froedtert.”

Since starting treatment, Trinette has been a patient of Anita D’Souza, MD, a hematologist-oncologist and Medical College of Wisconsin faculty member. “I learned that Dr. D’Souza had received her training at the Mayo Clinic and specialized in multiple myeloma. From our first consultation, Dr. D’Souza put me at ease regarding where I was and what our plan of care options were. That was encouraging - that she had, I had options. She shared that there are new treatments being developed through clinical trials and getting approved every year. I exhaled.”

Over the years, Trinette has received multiple rounds of chemotherapy, immunotherapy (a type of cancer treatment that activates or suppresses the immune system), two stem cell transplants, and participated in several clinical trials. “I prayed for doctors who would be wise and do what I needed. In working with Dr. D’Souza, she explained to me the benefits of a clinical trial. They offer the advantage of the latest medical attempts at securing a cure or remission. I have also gone through all that I have and not had to go into debt because of the trial participation. I believe that being a part of the trials and getting the latest MM work helped me surpass my initial prognosis. I’m moving into my 9th year.” 

Throughout her experiences with cancer, Trinette has turned to Dr. D’Souza for her trusted medical advice and to her faith, specifically her community at Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church, for her spiritual guidance. “When I was diagnosed, I said, ‘okay God, what is the plan for this?’ He responded, ‘there is another community that I want you to be a part of, and you can only do this work if you are a part of it.’ The university had been my people – and now the hospital, these are my people.”

Trinette holds many Froedtert staff and employees close to her heart. “In the Cancer Center, wherever you go, the people understand what you are going through. I have gotten to know a lot of the young ladies and men in the labs and reception areas – they greet me and tell me about what’s going on in their lives, their children’s lives, and their struggles. I listen to them, and I pray with them. It’s not only what I receive from Froedtert, but what I can give back to the people who are working here.” 

Outside of the hospital, Trinette’s calling encourages her to share her experiences with others. “I never knew about multiple myeloma or how it affects the Black community the way it does. Black women, especially those over 60, are most affected. My experiences with clinical trials and treatments have helped me walk with relatives of friends and family who are going through this. I also recently connected with the Black Myeloma Health Community through the HealthTree Foundation. I have joined their Spread the Word campaign, which is intended to get the word out to the Black community about multiple myeloma.”

While there is currently no known cure, Trinette is receiving weekly treatment in the Grace Clinic and is feeling well. She emphasizes how the Froedtert team gives her hope. 

“I would like others to really know and truly believe that it is very true what Froedtert says about itself. They will do ‘everything humanly possible’ to give the best medical healing. It’s not just a tagline or slogan; it is honestly their mission. I feel that Froedtert is uniquely positioned to meet the medical needs of a person through the depths of hand, head, and heart. The hand is the symbol of presence, holding and helping. The head is preparation, perfection, and performance of the care, and the heart is the center and location of the drive, intention, and commitment to do and be all that matters to the well-being of the persons who come for care.”

With her gratitude for Froedtert Hospital, Trinette encourages others to make a difference by helping patients during their greatest times of need and vulnerability. 

“Gifts support research, medical approaches, and compassionate care to do whatever is humanly possible. Donors become a part of that human possibility. Together, we can do great things to help bring cures and treatments and extend lives.”

To learn more about how you can make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer, please visit 

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