by Kathy Carrillo, client of Breast Cancer Resource Centers
Kathy & Patient Navigator Runi at PRC’s 7th Anniversary Celebration
I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 33. I led a healthy lifestyle and had no history of breast cancer in my family. As a young Latina, I felt unsure about where to turn and what to do for help. Culturally speaking, I was raised to believe that breasts were part of my sexual being, and therefore definitely a taboo subject-NOT to be discussed openly. This was different though. Breast cancer has nothing to do with sex, and I needed to connect with others who could help save my life.
It took me almost till the end of my treatment to reach out to the BCRC. I was prideful and thought I could “handle it” all on my own. My upbringing of keeping my illness private also made me pause. I didn’t realize that hearing someone simply say “I know EXACTLY how you feel” would make such a difference.
That day changed everything for me. I met BCRC’s Pink Ribbon Cowgirls and they not only provided support, but also helped me realize that I wasn’t alone in my journey. All my side effects, emotions and questions were validated. Knowing there were other young women, just like me who couldn’t taste even the hottest salsa, got so sick during their very first chemo, felt the immediate wonders of a hot flash, got angry for feeling sorry for themselves-all of this and more-shared in a safe, caring environment. No judgment, no shame, no embarrassment.
What an amazing relief and gift! My only regret is that I didn’t call sooner. My inner struggles and loneliness would have probably never even existed if I had only been confident enough to just pick up the phone. Thanks to the BCRC, I have made lifetime friendships and have been able to pay my experience forward. For me, that is the best way to repay the invaluable gift they gave me.
We invite you to participate in #GivingTuesday – a global day of online giving. Your year-end gift to BCRC ensures women in Travis, Williamson, and the surrounding counties have a place to get answers to their questions and find support to confront their fears. Please donate today!
If you or someone you know is faced with a breast cancer diagnosis and could use our support, please visit our website or call our helpline at 512-524-2560.