From Fear to Pursuing the Best of My Dreams

As part of our October breast cancer awareness blog series, we will be publishing stories from our clients and who are (or have been) faced with a breast cancer diagnosis.

This blog is written by client Amelia Tamara De La Garza Saenz who was frozen with fear when she first heard she had breast cancer. 

Cuando me dieron el diagnostico de cancer de pecho mi esposo y yo quedamos helados,sin habla y sin poder digerir la noticia. Solo me aferré a su mano que en ese momento era lo único que me consolaba. Queríamos tener toda la información posible pero la persona que me dió la noticia era enfermera, no nos podia dar mas datos. Aunado a que en el pasado cuando escuchabas conversasion de cancer era para oir que alguien había muerto. Nos hizimos una idea de que mi muerte estaba cerca.

Al llegar a casa que por buena o mala suerte estaban ahi todos reunidos por las vacaciones de primavera. Les comunicamos de lo que pasaba. Mi familia reaccionó de manera muy diferente.  Mi hija Dana, la mayor no lo creia y llorando me abrazó. Mi segunda hija Arantxa fue como una tormenta que pasaba en ese momento comenzo a golpear cosas. Mi hija menor se enojó conmigo porque ya le habia comunicado previamente a su consejera escolar de la situación. Mi hermana lloro conmigo y mi mama me impactó con su fortaleza de optimismo y sin llorar me dijo que todo iba a estar bien.

Como no tengo seguro de salud, comenzo la busqueda de ayuda. No teníamos idea por donde empezar ni con quien hablar, y alguien, no recuerdo quien, nos dio el numero de Jesica Jones. Mi esposo le habló y dejó mensaje. Ella pronto nos regresó la llamada y nos citó en su oficina. Cuando llegamos a  conocerla y nos explico que era navegadora del BCRC ,me dejó de lo mas tranquila con su tacto para tratar la cituación, nos conto la historia de su cancer y me dio esperanzas de vida. Posteriormente me ayudo a encontrar ayuda médica y financiera en diferentes asociaciones desconocidas en ese momento para mi.

Cuando finalmente fui con la oncóloga quien me confirmo el diagnostico de cancer y me informó que mi tumor era de 3.5 cm invasivo ductal. Me dieron 18 sesiones de quimoterapia y 31 de radioterapia y 12 mas infusiones de herceptin (es el nombre del medicamento). Todo esto transcurrió en el periodo de 15 meses muy largos que ahora los veo tan cortos y lejanos pero no por eso menos educativos.

A la par de el tratamiento Jessica me informó de los grupos de apoyo que se llevan a cabo mensualmente en diferentes partes de la ciudad (Austin y Round Rock). Al princípio no me interesaba ir pero mi mamá me aconsejo y me empujo un poquito a que fuera. Le agradezco tanto que lo hiziera porque estos grupos se volvieron una parte tan importante en mi viaje por esta enfermedad. Con sus conferencias, experiencias y informaciones nos apoyan de muchas formas. Tambien nos relajan con su calor humano, nos motivan a seguir a delante. Te das cuenta que no estas sola en esta batalla y que hay muchas otras mujeres pasando por lo mismo que estan dispuestas a ayudarte y que yo tambien puedo apoyar a otras compañeras. Reímos, lloramos ,platicamos y compartimos sin sentir esa lástima que la gente que no ha pasado por esto nos hace sentir. Yo no dejo de ir a todas la reuniones de las dos locaciones  que tengo cerca, entre Jessica Jones y Elaine Gonzalez (mis dos navegadoras favoritas) me cambiaron la vida.

Ahora que terminé mi tratamiento  ya fui a la carrera de Susan G. Komen. Cosa que nunca había hecho, fui al baile “la vida en rosa” sin acompañante y me doy el tiempo de disfrutarme a mi misma. Mis planes para el futuro son participar en una carrera de bicicletas y comenzar un negocio Nuevo. También me gustaría apoyar de alguna forma a BCRC, a los grupos de apoyo al cancer de pecho y la comunidad en general a informar que la vida no se acaba con el diagnóstico de cancer, que hay formas de luchar y salir adelante.

Mi tratamiento fue largo pero con la ayuda de toda mi familia, de BCRC, los doctores, enfermeras y compañeras del grupo de apoyo estoy de lo mejor. El cancer me enseñó que solo se vive una vez y que tenemos que realizar si no todos al menos lo máximo de sueños que tengamos en nuestra mente y en nuestros corazones.

Por,

Amelia Tamara De La Garza Saenz

 

When I got my breast cancer diagnosis, my husband and I were frozen with fear, we could not speak and could not process the news. I held on to his hand because at that moment that was the only thing that consoled me. We wanted to have all the information possible, but the person who gave me the news was a nurse and could not give us more data.  We worried because in the past when you heard about cancer you heard that someone had died, we feared that my death was close.

As luck would have it, all of my family was at our home together for spring break and we told them to what was going on. Each of my family reacted very differently. My daughter Dana, the oldest could not believe it, she began crying and hugged me. My second daughter, Arantxa reacted strongly and began physically striking things in the room.  My youngest daughter was angry with me because I had already communicated with her school counselor of the situation.  My sister cried with me and my mom surrounded me with her optimism.  Without shedding tears, my mom told me, “Everything would be OK.”

Since I did not have health insurance, we began to look for help. We had no idea where to start or with whom to speak, and someone, I don’t remember who, gave us the number of Jessica Jones. My husband called her and left a message. She promptly returned the call and invited us to her office. When we met with her and she explained that she was a Patient Navigator at the BCRC, she made me feel extremely calm with her precise, kind and knowledgeable explanation of the situation. She told us about her cancer and that gave me hope. Later she helped me to find medical and financial assistance in different associations that I had not been aware of.

When I finally went with the oncologist they confirmed the diagnosis of cancer and he informed me that my tumor was 3.5 cm, invasive ductal. I had 18 rounds of chemotherapy, 31 rounds of radiation and 12 infusions of Herceptin. All of this happened in 15 months which seemed long at the time but now seem so short and distant but no less a learning experience.

During my treatment, Jessica informed me of BCRC’s Spanish support circles that are held monthly in different parts of the city (Austin and Round Rock). At first I was not interested in going but my mom advised and pushed me to go. I am thankful that she did because these groups became such an important part in my journey with this disease. BCRC supports us in many ways such as the seminars, women sharing experiences at the support circles and also sharing information. Also they calm us with their warmth, they motivate us to continue forward. You realize that you are not alone in this battle, and there are many other women going through the same thing. With their support I feel like I can support other classmates as well. We laugh, cry, talk and share without feeling the shame that people who have not gone through this make us feel. I continue to attend all the meetings at the two locations near me facilitated by Jessica Jones and Elaine Gonzalez (my two favorite patient navigators) who have changed my life.

Now that I have finished my treatment, I have participated in the Susan G. Komen’s Race for the Cure. Something I had never done before, I went to the dance “The Pink Life” by myself and really enjoyed myself. I now have plans for the future to take part in a bicycle race and start my own company.  I’d also like to support BCRC, and the breast cancer community and the general community. I’d like to teach that life doesn’t end with the diagnosis of cancer. There are ways to fight and get ahead. My treatment was long, but with the help of my family, BCRC, doctors, nurses and companions of the support group I am doing really well. Cancer taught me that you only live once and we should pursue the best of our dreams that we have in our minds and in our hearts.

Sincerely,

Amelia Tamara De La Garza Saenz

The BCRC thanks Amelia for sharing her story. 

If you or someone you know is facing breast cancer and could use our support, please visit our website or call our helpline at 512-524-2560.
Consider making a donation to BCRC this October and give the gift that makes a real difference for the women in Central Texas facing breast cancer right NOW. Visit bcrc.org to learn more about how we can help, or click here if you wish to give back today.

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