My name is Sonia and I am a breast cancer survivor. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999. At the time of my diagnosis, my daughter was very young and I had very little support throughout my treatment. I endured three rounds of chemotherapy and had one breast removed. Shortly after, I completed genetic testing and discovered that I was BRCA positive. I then decided to remove my other breast and have a full hysterectomy in the hopes of not having a relapse.
My breast cancer diagnoses affected me significantly because it changed my life as I knew it. I spent many nights in the hospital alone, and found it very difficult to cope with the thought of possibly losing my life to this disease. Even so, not all changes were bad. Breast cancer made me evaluate my lifestyle and change it for the better. In the process, I became mentally stronger.
A few years after being diagnosed with breast cancer, I learned about Cancer Support Community and began participating in their support and educational programs for cancer patients. To this day, I continue to participate and serve as a mentor for newly diagnosed patients.
In 2005, I was once again affected by cancer, this time in my stomach. What followed was the removal of my stomach, gall bladder, spleen and part of my esophagus. With this second diagnosis of cancer, I once again fell into a deep depression. It was so hard to fathom surviving cancer again and dealing with all of the challenges of losing my stomach. This time around, however, I had so much more knowledge and power. Everything I had learned in my support groups became tools that helped me get through it.
When you get cancer for a second time it changes your perspective on life. Now that I have beat cancer twice I realize that I am blessed to have another chance at life. I am motivated to live many more years for my daughter and family. Though I have had a rough journey, there is nothing about it I would change. I simply look forward to the future. I focus a lot on taking care of myself these days. I eat a special diet and maintain an active lifestyle. I also love doing arts and crafts and spending time with my network of fellow survivors.
If I could describe my cancer journey in one word it would be family. Without my family, and the friends who have become family, this journey would have been extremely difficult. For them I am grateful. For them I keep fighting.