October 5, 2012
I have been a breast cancer survivor for 11 years.
In May 2001, at age 39, I recognized something wasn’t right after I received a hug.
On a visit to my gynecologist, during my breast exam, he discovered a lump in my left breast, and suggested I get a mammogram and ultrasound.
Nothing showed on the mammogram, so I thought, “Great,” and considered canceling the ultrasound. But a friend in the medical field said, “It’s been approved; just get it done.”
Thank God, I did; that’s when the tumor showed up.
The treatment recommended by my surgeon, Dr. Nicholas Tranakas, and my oncologist, Dr. Francisco Belette, advised a lumpectomy with follow-up chemotherapy and radiation, due to the lymph node involvement and the stage of my cancer.
You realize how important family is when going through a challenging and life-changing experience. My family was with me when I received the news. My mom said she was heart sick; but we knew that we would get through it. My parents went to every appointment and treatment that I went to in those 12 months. As a family, we have a tremendous faith and trust that God is in control and we had nothing to worry about.
Dillard’s was so good to me in working with my schedule at that time [as a Clinique Beauty Consultant at Dillard’s in the Galleria Mall, Fort Lauderdale], thus helping in my recovery.
When I’m asked how this experience has changed my perception of myself or of life, I never thought I’d be able to go through a divorce, breast cancer, surgery and treatment. Then I remember my God shall supply all my needs, hurts and sadness. Then I realized I’m OK.
For the past 11 years, I’ve gained more wisdom and knowledge, where I find that I value even more my faith, family relationships and life.
The experience reaffirmed my faith in humanity when I saw the genuine care and compassion … from all the hospital doctors, nurses and technicians. It inspired me to give of myself, and volunteer at Broward Health Imperial Point on my days off. Plus, I started the Smilin Survivor Breast Cancer Support Group, and I recently joined Gilda’s Club as a volunteer.
Staying positive keeps the good endorphins flowing. I truly believe that in giving smiles away, when they come back to you, you feel great.