I am lucky to have survived. Part of that wasn’t really luck at all. It was the support I had around – not only from D and his family but from mine as well.
My family lives in Barranquilla, Colombia where I was born and raised.
When they heard about my diagnosis my sister and my uncle visited for a few days. My parents stayed after my surgery and during my treatment.
My mom cooked healthy meals for me. She wanted me to be strong. My dad acted as my cheerleader, giving me the encouragement I needed to keep my faith.
It was after surgery and when I was about to start my first treatment that I decided to let a few of my friends know what I was going through.
At first, I was not ready to share my news. I did not want to respond to questions that most likely I did not know the answer to. I did not feel like explaining my diagnosis – how I found the lump if cancer was in my family if I was going to survive, etc.
Because I had my parents around I felt strong. I fully digested the news of my diagnosis and came to terms with them. They gave me the confidence to believe that I was going to be able to go through this.
Given the staging of my cancer, the treatment I was getting and the information I had from my doctors, I knew that it was possible to win the battle. Having them around gave me the boost I needed to believe in myself and stay positive.
That strength went a long way when faced with challenging and sometimes awkward obstacles.
At first, I approached friends that I was in touch with the most. Then, I started to contact those that I considered close friends but did not talk to as often.
As expected, they were shocked by my news.
My friends came to visit. Some brought me flowers, some gifts, some offered to cook for me and some came over to bake cookies.
I had a visit from my good friend from Colombia who came to spend a few days with me. Two of my friends from childhood flew in and surprised me for my birthday. I received phone calls and e-mails from friends all over the world.
These were all wonderful gestures that I needed at that moment.
Having my parents around was awesome. I felt like a little girl again.
My parents are happy people by nature. I don’t know if it is because of the way they innately live their life or because they live in a warm and tropical weather all year round. They are just happy people who always look for the silver lining, even in the most difficult situations.
They got very close to God during my treatment. Every day at 3:00 PM was rosary time at my house.
My dad still claims that the Virgin Mary saved me. I admired his faith. I still do.
Even though I received a Catholic education, I don’t consider myself a very religious person. While going through treatment, I did join my parents in prayer every day. This filled me with peace – it made me feel good.
My diagnosis really moved them. My dad decided to start writing a book on Economics and my mom took a liking to painting – and she got really good. I felt that my breast cancer diagnosis had inspired others, but what about me?
Where was my inspiration?