Marta Talks About Hereditary Cancer Risk Factors and the Importance of Early Detection


Marta Faces of Awareness

My history with breast cancer begins six years ago when my sister was diagnosed with one of the most aggressive types of breast cancer. Two and a half years after my sister’s diagnosis, the cancer had metastasized to her bones and she sadly passed away.  

One year after my sister’s diagnosis, my mother was also diagnosed with breast cancer. My mother’s diagnosis was found in time and doctors were able to perform a mastectomy. There was no need for any other treatment. To this day, my mother is a breast cancer survivor. 

I am 48 years old, and my first encounter with cancer was when I was 25 years old in El Salvador.  I detected a mass in my right breast. My first reaction was to ignore the problem. I let the mass grow until my sister in-law, who is a nurse, found out and had me go get it checked out.  It wasn’t malignant, but I was told I needed a partial mastectomy with reconstruction.

For over 20 years, everything was fine. I came to the United States to help my mother with my sister during her diagnosis. After my sister passed away and my mother had her mastectomy, I found a mass in my right breast. As incredible as it sounds, I had the same reaction as the first encounter. I temporarily ignored the signs until, thank God, I woke up and looked for help.  

In December 2017, I was sent to get a mammogram at Swedish Hospital. On the same day, I got a breast ultrasound, and on January 8th I had a breast biopsy. It came back positive for breast cancer.

I need to thank Linda for always being there when I needed her. I would have not known where to receive financial assistance and medical coverage if it wasn’t for her navigating me every step of the way. Linda was able to obtain a wig for me when I was struggling to obtain one myself. I have to thank the whole staff at the Jack and Mayora Rosenberg Women’s Health Center because I was treated with such respect and caring every time by everyone.  

Dr. Mizera was my surgeon, and I can’t say enough about how knowledgeable and caring she has been. She explained everything I would be going through and what to expect in a detailed and patient manner. I was given advice and detailed prepping instructions with every procedure. I felt informed and cared for.  

Dr. Lambiase, who is my oncologist, is beyond helpful and informative. I am happy with all of the options she provided me with. She offered me great information, and her follow-up care is impressive.  

Taking into consideration there is a language barrier, everyone at Swedish Hospital always had access to someone who can speak Spanish and make sure I was understanding the information I was given. I would not change anything from the care I received from Swedish Hospital.  Everyone communicated well and I always felt informed.

I had a double mastectomy. This was solely my decision, since the cancer was just in my right breast.  One month after recovering from surgery I began chemotherapy. At this time, I am on the seventh week of my treatment and I am almost done. 

I thank God that I have had great people in my path that have helped me remained strong. I can’t stop thinking about how this could have been avoided or at least could have had a smaller impact on my life if I would have taken action since the beginning. 

To schedule a mammogram, request an appointment or call 773-878-6888

Published October 1, 2018

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