One in every 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. In the United States, a woman is diagnosed every three minutes.
Greater Lawrence Family Health Center would like to introduce you to one of these women. Wanda is 45 years old, and a single mother of two daughters ages 25 and 21. Originally from Puerto Rico, Wanda came to Lawrence and became a patient at the Health Center more than a year ago. As part of her medical visit, Wanda had a mammogram in our New Balance Foundation Imaging Center. Screening results indicated a problem, and further tests revealed that Wanda’s breast cancer was a Multifocal Stage 3 Infiltrative Ductal Carcinoma. IDC is very common, accounting for 55 percent of all detected invasive breast cancers. When caught early, the survival rate is more than 85 percent.
Like most newly diagnosed patients, Wanda returned to the Imaging Center with numerous questions in hope of finding answers that alleviated her concerns. She was referred to the I Can Cope support group last July. At the group, she found the knowledge and confidence to begin talking openly about her disease. Among the other survivors, she found the emotional support and comfort that helped her accept her diagnosis.
According to Wanda, “When we find ourselves isolated, alone, and not able to move forward with the diagnosis, we believe that we are not going to be able to make it. Whether the issues are economic, personal or emotional, I Can Cope is always there for us. It is a great benefit for every woman diagnosed with breast cancer. In addition to offering me better insight into the illness, I Can Cope has provided me with transportation to medical appointments as well as post-mastectomy products. Every Tuesday, I look forward to coming to the support group where I am not the only one facing this disease.”
Wanda had a bilateral mastectomy last October and then began eight series of chemotherapy every two weeks. Her radiation treatments started in late March, and will be followed by breast reconstruction. Although she had to move to Boston for family support, Wanda continues to participate in the I Can Cope group. “Soy luchadora y mañana sobreviviente de cancer. Para mis dos hijas Shaira y Yahaira Rodriguez soy su campeona,” says Wanda. “I am a fighter, and tomorrow I will be a cancer survivor. To my daughters, Shaira and Yahaira, I am their champion.”