Breast cancer survivor stories: ‘I feel like I grew from this’

SHARE Breast cancer survivor stories: ‘I feel like I grew from this’

Editor’s note: October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the Chicago Sun-Times invited breast cancer survivors to share their stories. We’ll share these first-person accounts throughout the month.

I was 27 and detected a lump on my left breast. There was no history of breast cancer in my family. I didn’t think much of it, and when I went to the doctor she also thought it was nothing but sent me to get an ultrasound and biopsy as a precaution.

It was on my 28th birthday that I got the call. It was breast cancer.

I looked at my options and my doctor at Advocate Trinity Hospital and I decided on a lumpectomy instead of a mastectomy. The doctor took out two lymph nodes that were not positive for cancer and said everything look good. I did chemotherapy for a year and that was the hardest part.

The first couple months were very hard, I felt drained. I lost all my hair and that was kind of hard, but I got over it really quickly. It was hard to see the kids worried thinking something was going to happen.

I had my treatment at Advocate Trinity. The nurses and everybody there are awesome. They make you feel comfortable and loved. I had a lot of support from family and friends, and I got through it; I’m doing much better now. I’m done with chemo, and the doctor said I need to be on medication for a couple of years just to make sure it doesn’t come back.

This is an experience that you never want, but when it happens you feel like it was meant to be. I feel like I grew from this; it kind of changed me and the way I think.

Little things used to stress me out, and now with the kids and stuff, I don’t think anything of it. We’ll work it out. It changes your way of thinking.

I just want to enjoy life. I have four kids and they need me, so I don’t want to stress about anything. We think they don’t know what we are going through, but they know what you feel.

I’m working a part-time job, and I plan on going back to school and perhaps getting involved with breast cancer work. It’s where my heart is kind of set right now. I miss the team at Trinity. I don’t have a reason to go back, but I miss it. It kind of becomes your second home. I need to go visit my nurses.

Jacksenia Rodriguez, Chicago

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