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By Tanya Enriquez DelValle
Breast Cancer Survivor in San Antonio
Five years after being diagnosed with breast cancer at age 27, I got my first tattoo…the energizer bunny with the pink ribbon on the drum. I was going to keep going and going.
Here I am now 50 and still cancer free!
I have an incredible life. I am a counselor at Legacy of Educational Excellence (LEE) High School, married to the man of my dreams for 15 years, and excited about the next adventure in my life.
Twenty-three years ago, on Nov. 21, 1997, my world changed when I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
I remember asking my doctors if I was going to die. They said, “Not anytime soon.”
That was all I needed to hear.
From that point forward I decided that cancer was NOT going to get the best of me. At the time, I was a teacher and coach at Edison High School. I did not have time for cancer!
But as many told me, this was a battle I was going to have face head on. And fight I did. I donned cute hats, scarves, and even a few caps that students got me while they stood in solidarity with me in my fight.
I had an incredible family that never left my side and colleagues that wore hats every day for me.
And though I would never want cancer again, it brought some of the most beautiful people I have ever met into my life. I met my breast buddies, Marta Zuniga Harding and Susan Kohl, and we quickly became the Three Musketeers. We were part of the very 1st Race for the Cure in San Antonio in 1998 and were inseparable until I lost them both later that year.
Cancer is a strange beast. It gives, and it takes away. It gave me strength and opened my eyes to a new life filled with positivity and grit.
I remember looking at women that were 5 years, 10 years out and thinking: “I can’t wait to be there too.” Now I am that someone that newly diagnosed women can look to for strength.
Cancer did not define me, but it did teach me to Love harder and remember that everyday is a gift.
Editor’s Note: This is part of a series of guest blog posts from Breast Friends Forever (BFF) in San Antonio, Texas (64% Latino). BFF is a support group that enables young breast cancer survivors to share stories and experiences, developed by the Institute for Health Promotion Research at UT Health San Antonio (the team behind Salud America!) and Susan G. Komen San Antonio. Email BFF or Visit BFF on Facebook. The main image above and additional images feature Tanya Enriquez DelValle.
You can read more about Enriquez DelValle in the Nuestras Historias booklet featuring Latina cancer survivors, produced by the Institute for Health Promotion Research at UT Health San Antonio.