Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)
“I know I have within me all that I need”
I was born in Cuba but have lived in Miami since 1986. I have been married for 27 years and have two wonderful sons, Hector (25) and Jean Carlos (18). Hector is currently serving in the military in Afghanistan and Jean Carlos just graduated from High School. I also have a gorgeous princess in my life, she is my granddaughter, Isabella.
On December 2009 after a routine mammogram, my life changed completely. I received a called from my gynecologist’s office telling me that I needed a biopsy. I don’t know what came over me, but I became really angry. I refused to return to his office and went in search of two more doctor for second opinions. To my surprise, they both agreed that I needed a biopsy. With the doctors and my husband pushing me to do so, I finally did.
The results came in 3 days later: positive. I had breast cancer….DCIS.
My healing journey has been a journey of self –empowerment. Despite the presence of cancer in my body, I did little to change my daily routine. I took the necessary time off from work after my surgery but while at home recuperating, I continued with my on-line classes in school. For some reason I was full of energy and keeping myself busy I realize now was probably a type of escape. I didn’t want to think too much about my fears. For me, that was my way of coping, even in the midst of my healing.
Fortunately, I never had chemo or radiation but I did have to have reconstruction twice. Breast reconstruction can provide significant psychosocial benefits for women. After 6 months of my double mastectomy I decided to have my reconstruction, in my case the process wasn’t too traumatic since I had implants before; nonetheless because the reconstruction of the nipples and areola is not easily and usually reserved as a final step in breast reconstruction for patients with cancer, I have scheduled my next surgery for the end of this month (June) and I hope that with this surgery I will be done with my “makeover”.
During my healing process while at home I finished all the requirements for the Masters program in Public Administration and I attended the Value Integration Capstone (an internship required for the school to be able to graduate, where students develop the leadership skills to assume individual responsibility for effectively creating and producing appropriate regional, national, organizational outcomes; and skills in reflective thinking and critical analysis) which consists of a two full time weeks at Nova Southeastern University in Broward. Finally, in June 2010 I was able to graduate.
I am grateful that I always had my family’s support during my recovery. As breast cancer survivors we all have to deal with psychological and physical scars, however, I was very fortunate that I found a support group. That made a huge difference in my healing. Through a common friend I met Patricia San Pedro, an extraordinary woman, that provided me with advice and information she learned while on her own breast cancer journey. She also introduced me to a support group she created called the “Link of Hope Sistas”, a loving group of ladies with a lot of enthusiasm and the desire of assist each other and share their own experiences.
Now, I am actively involved in my own wellness every day, making choices that will be good for my body: physically, mentally and spiritually. I have learned that my words can impact my life and so I make every effort to stay positive.
My cancer journey has taught me that every day is an opportunity to learn. Things happen in our lives that enrich us…and as was the case for me…cancer brought new friendships into my life that I will treasure forever.
I’m here to help others now on their journey. If you want to connect, please feel free to write (in English or Spanish).