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By Yvette Pavon
San Antonio Cancer Survivor
At the age of 42, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
It was found after my very first mammogram.
Never did I think that a check up that I had scheduled only because it was something that women did when they got older, would discover I had cancer. I had no symptoms.
When my gynecologist shared the news with me in her office, I think I was in complete denial. I mean I went for this mammogram on my own free will, not because of my doctor’s concern.
I remember going to dinner that night with my father, stepmother, and newly boyfriend. I wasn’t scared when talking about it. I knew letting my mind run wild would not help, so I talked to God that night.
“God, please give me the strength and courage that I need to get through this season. I can’t do this without you.”
Not only He gave me the strength and courage, but He also put a man in my life that would walk this journey with me every step of the way. Mario and I had only been dating for two months. When I told him the news, his response to me was, “I’m all in.”
So it started. I accepted that my body was invaded by cancer.
I did what I think everyone who hears the words, “You have cancer” would do. I researched the heck out of breast cancer, talked to many cancer survivors, and even changed my diet.
Treatment started several months later. I had a lumpectomy first, and when I healed from surgery, I went through 36 rounds of radiation. Not only I went through physical pain with poking and prodding by many different medical staff, but emotional pain that lingered.
After treatment, I felt like I should be shouting from roof tops that I was cancer free, but if I’m being completely honest, I felt like I was in a funk (as I called it). I didn’t want to discuss this with anyone because I thought people would not understand. I pushed these feelings aside and didn’t deal with them mainly because I didn’t even know what they were.
As a teacher, it’s pretty easy to stay busy with work, so that helped out, but soon I felt less and less like myself. I started to not recognize me anymore and that made me sad. I stopped doing hobbies I once enjoyed. I desperately needed to figure out how to make it to the other side of this doom. I started to even feel guilty.
I knew so many others that were still fighting cancer, and here I was cancer free. That guilt was hard for me. These women are my heroes!
So I was encouraged to go to this workshop (Overcomers: Daughters of the King of Kings) that a good friend of mine told me about. I took the nine-week course and let me tell you, it was the best decision! I found out this funk I was feeling was PTSD and NORMAL! It all made sense!
Once I unpacked the hurt, anxiety, fear, and uncertainty, I moved forward and have never looked back since.
I enjoy life! I enjoy the most simplest things. I love my family, friends, and my love and best friend, Mario.
Life after cancer was not what I imagined, it’s better. I’m not thankful for the disease, but I am thankful for all the lessons I have learned because of it. My faith in God has grown stronger and I am stronger.
Each day is a blessing!
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 features Yvette, a local school teacher, with her boyfriend, Mario.