This month, in partnership with AdventHealth for Women, we’re recognizing some of the women in our community who are survivors of breast cancer, who have had a recurrence, or who are currently going through treatment. To us, all of these women are survivors in their own right. It is the hope of these women that by telling their stories they inspire and educate other women who are facing a breast cancer diagnosis.
There’s only one you. While most of us embrace that we are unique individuals, Nancy Alvarez says that could go right out the window the moment something like cancer comes into the picture.
After she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Alvarez, a news anchor for WFTV, the ABC affiliate in Orlando, was tempted to do what any journalist would do; she thought about researching the internet, but knew that wasn’t exactly the best thing for her. “Someone else’s experience does not reflect yours or what you can expect. Every journey is different,” she says. “Instead of scaring yourself or becoming overwhelmed with information, talk to your own doctor who has the specifics about your health.”
With no symptoms, no lump or any indication there was something wrong, Alvarez’s annual mammogram was very likely the thing that helped save her life. She says she had a big support network that helped her face all the uncertainty she felt right after receiving the news. A friend sent her a text that helped her feel more secure with her decision to have a mastectomy. She hopes the message helps other women:
“It is just flesh. It’s not who you are. You are scared of what may be, of what could happen. Women survive. To be brave means you must be scared, and you do it anyway. Either way you win. Any more time with your children is a victory. You won the day you found out. At this point it’s just semantics. Boobs? No boobs? What matters is you. You are not dying. In fact, you are living more now than you were last week.”
The idea that she could help spread the word about the importance of getting regular mammograms helped Alvarez move forward. “I’m grateful beyond measure,” she says.