Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Four Miami Moms Share Their Story

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We have partnered with Baptist Health South Florida to bring you this important information about breast cancer as a reminder to schedule your annual mammogram.

Early Detection is Crucial

According to The American Cancer Society breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed among US women and is the second leading cause of death among women. While it is relatively uncommon for breast cancer to affect someone under age 40 it is still possible to be diagnosed.

Starr Mautner, M.D., a breast surgeon at Miami Cancer Institute shares, “I have diagnosed enough patients in their 20s and 30s to know that it’s important for teenagers, in addition to young adults, to have a general understanding of breast cancer, the signs and symptoms and what to do if they feel something abnormal.” Dr. Mautner also stresses the importance of self-exam as a step to start screening early.

According to the National Breast Center Foundation, when breast cancer is detected early and in a localized state, the five-year survival rate is near 100 percent. This statistic makes mammograms extremely important for women.

If you have insurance schedule your mammogram every year. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Baptist Health is offering special pricing for mammograms for those without insurance throughout October. A screening mammogram is $50 and a diagnostic mammogram is $100, including the radiologist’s fee and 3-D mammography. The offer is available throughout Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties. A prescription is required.

For patients who don’t have a referring physician: call 786-596-2464 in Miami-Dade, Broward or Monroe. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, visit BaptistHealth.net/BreastHealth

Breast Cancer Survivors Share Their Stories 

Jackie Aviles, a contributing writer for Miami Moms Blog, shares her story in the video below about being diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer at the age of 26. She advises all women, “When it comes to surviving cancer, early detection is still the most crucial step that you can take. Schedule your appointments as soon as possible.”


To raise awareness about the importance of regular mammograms, Miami Moms Blog is honored to feature four amazing women in our community who have been impacted by breast cancer. 


Jackie Aviles, Mother of 2 (Ages 5 & 7)

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Four Miami Moms Share Their Story miami moms blog How has breast cancer impacted you personally?

Often times God has to allow things in our lives to help us trust Him alone, even if at times it feels like we’ve received a death sentence. 
 
Breast cancer was one of the greatest instruments in God’s hands to continue to reveal to me that my ultimate dependence and my ultimate hope had to be in Him, despite my circumstances. 
 
When I was breastfeeding my youngest son I remember feeling a lump in my breast. It was then, at the age of 26, as a Momma of two young boys, that tI was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. I had 11 tumors radiating through my chest and 14 lymph nodes full of cancer under my arm.
 
Shortly after, the cancer spread to my bones giving me a 7% chance of beating the diagnosis which basically meant I had about 6 months to live. I stand today as a stage 4 metastatic breast cancer survivor and can truly say this journey has impacted me personally through the form of surrender. 
 

How would you encourage someone to support a friend or family member who is being impacted by cancer?

Being present is huge. So many people battle this alone. Through cancer I’ve come to understand the shifting weight of sorrow and joy in deep suffering. I get it a little more now and I resonate with people in pain. This is key. It’s hard, but beautiful all at the same time. 

God met me in my suffering and I’ve been changed forever through it. Specifically because of the people who prayed on behalf of my life and showed up at the moments when I felt my world was caving in. 
 
God’s reasons are perfect. Our Savior intimately acquainted with grief and suffering, and is constantly pleading our case before heaven’s throne. God stands whole-heartedly with us in our suffering so that we will stand whole-heartedly with others in their suffering.
 
It’s a beautiful thing when comfort spreads in this way. I encourage you to reach out to that friend or family member battling this diagnosis. It could seem hopeless at times and unbearable to carry but when someone shows up, it’s like Jesus’ hands extending out to calm the storm, if only for a minute. 
 

I encourage you to step out and go visit that friend or family member and be present. You may experience revival in the aching and desperate hearts of the people around you. 


Irene Hernandez

Mother of 3 (Ages 11, 15, 27) & Grandmother of 1 (Age 9)

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Four Miami Moms Share Their Story miami moms blog

How has breast cancer impacted you personally?

On or about February 1, 2019 I noticed something wasn’t right in a self-examination, so I immediately went to the doctor.  On February 12, 2019 at the age of 45 my life forever changed when I found out I had invasive ductal carcinoma.

Immediately, the news spread quickly through my family and one of my cousins reached out to me and referred me to a doctor at Miami Cancer Institute known as “MCI”.  The best thing that happened to me during my journey was going to this wonderful institute.  Since the first day I arrived the treatment has been by far the best I could have ever expected. My group of doctors, nurses, and staff are wonderful. I highly recommend this institute to everyone.

Although, my breast cancer was only in one breast I made the decision to have a double mastectomy which was done on March 26, 2019.  I woke up to the wonderful news that my lymph nodes were negative.  However, I received the bad news that my Oncotype DX score was high which is a test result which assigns a recurrence score. My doctors recommended eight treatments of chemotherapy and my last one was August 28, 2019.  However, that wasn’t the end of my journey. This journey will never really be over because I will always be under the surveillance of my doctor. I am thankful for this because I will be under the best care for the rest of my life.  

On October 8, 2019, I had my reconstruction surgery which was a success. Also, my estrogen receptor and progesterone receptor came back positive, which means I need to be on a hormone therapy medication for five plus years.

Although, my life has changed forever it showed me how strong I could be even at my weakest moment.  My family has been my backbone and I am forever grateful for them being by my side every step of the way. In the midst of this horrible disease, I consider myself very lucky to have such a wonderful support system between my family and friends. My job has also been very supportive and that is very important to me as well being a single Mom. 

Since I was diagnosed, I’ve been thinking how I can make a difference or impact in this community so if I could encourage women to go get their yearly mammograms that would make me so happy. Also, knowing your body is very important and what ultimately saved me because I do my yearly check-up, coincidentally, every October.

How would you encourage someone to support a friend or family member who is being impacted by cancer?

Be there for them and listen to what they have to say or need.  I’m the kind of person that doesn’t like to ask for help, however, during this time you need all the help and emotional support possible.  This is something that will forever change your life but you can’t let it define you.  I’m looking forward to the year 2020 to get back to my normal self!   

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Four Miami Moms Share Their Story miami moms blog

 


Lysette Borges, Mother of 3 (Ages 28, 31, 39)

How has breast cancer impacted you personally?

I was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 42 years old. Once I was diagnosed with breast cancer, the emotional roller coaster began. After numerous opinions and lots of research I found the right doctor that was able to explain my options. I didn’t want to remove my breast. He was able to remove all the cancer. 

I opted not to do chemotherapy but took tomixifen to prevent future cancer. My body did not react well with this medicine. I decided to stop taking medicine. However, I was extremely scared for my life. My doctors understood my decision and recommended mammograms & other exams every 6 months for 3 years.

At that point, I knew I needed to start taking care of myself physically & emotionally. I changed my diet to include fresh veggies, fruits, exercise and reduced process food, sugars & red meat. I left everything in God’s hands. The most important impact for me was to look at life with a positive eye and appreciate every moment. Life is too short! You have one life to live, live it well! 

How would you encourage someone to support a friend or family member who is being impacted by cancer?

A support system is crucial for someone going through any type of cancer. Be there for them by listening to them, pray for them, and go with them to appointments. My friend was going through colon cancer at same time I was diagnosed. I never told her about my breast cancer as she was stage 5 because I was more concerned that she be happy & comfortable. I sat through my lunch hour with her while she was getting chemo. Unfortunately, my friend Martha passed away after cancer spread to her liver. Do whatever you can do to be a part of someone’s support system.


Ana Quero, Mother of 1 (Age 3)

How breast cancer has impacted you personally?

My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago when my son Noah was turning 1. She came to visit for his birthday and also to give me support as I was going back to work. The impact of this news changed our life.

Can you imagine? My mom came to help me during my transition from maternity leave to a working routine (I’m an railroad engineer) and instead, I ended taking care of her, my baby and my husband. Those days were not easy at all. 

However, during that time, my relationship with my mom strengthened. We both started to walk through this path so close to one another. While I was learning to be a multi-tasking mom I also was discovering how powerful was my mom. She went through the typical side-effects during her six months of chemotherapy. She never complained, she never asked, “Why?” Her attitude made everything much easier. She made me feel that there was purpose behind this circumstance.

While taking medications, we all changed some habits at home. Our diet was highly impacted since we started to be more conscious about our nutrition. This is when tea became such an important part of our lives. For an entire year we drank white tea at least three times a day. My mom started recovering and what began as a diet became a habit. My mom was feeling so energetic and optimistic. She spent a lot of time with my son but one day she said, “Sweetie, it is time for me to do something else. It is time to begin something and start my life again.” This is how My Tea Bar was born. She started pushing the idea for having “a place with purpose,” a place where everything is based on tea. 

As a result of my mom’s breast cancer journey our relationship not only grew but we also became business partners and are pursuing the dream of creating My Tea Bar.

I could spend hours sharing about all the lessons learned and the ones still in progress, but essentially I want to invite you to believe! There is always light at the end of the tunnel. God always has a purpose for us behind any circumstance. 

How would you encourage someone to support a friend or family member who is being impacted by cancer?

Being close to someone who is going through this experience is not easy. However, it is a great opportunity to learn about yourself, to learn about what is really important in life, and to build a stronger relationship with your loved ones. Faith and love are the keys to overcome these situations. The real art of giving consists in being unconditional for them and for yourself. My advice: do not ask, “Why this is happening?” Listen to your heart and instead, ask, “What is this for?” There is an answer for you and for each person impacted by cancer and any other similar circumstance.
 
Believe, listen to your heart and never stay alone. If you feel you and your family are the only ones going through this difficult time, the news for you is that you are not. Many families are experiencing cancer and there are many groups out there helping each other. Look for non-profit organizations, visit the church in your community… you might be surprised. Always, believe.
 

 

Thank you for taking time to read the stories of these incredible women.

How is breast cancer impacting your family?
Share with us in the comments so that we can honor you too. 

 

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Cierra
Cierra is the Owner & Founder of Miami Moms Blog. A Southern girl with Alabama roots, Cierra lived in California, Israel, China, and Texas before she married her high school sweetheart and began married life on the island paradise of Key Biscayne. She has a background in Leadership Development and Education which has given her opportunities to work in Asia, Africa, Europe, The Middle East and Latin America. She served as the Director of Key Biscayne Presbyterian School and attended Harvard University Project Zero Classroom until she launched into her latest adventure: motherhood. Cierra is Mama to a joyful 3 year girl and a handsome baby boy who was born November 2018! She is passionate about leading and developing women to use their unique gifts to serve and encourage others. Follow her on Instagram to stay connected.