MCALLEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — As Breast Cancer Awareness Month comes to an end, women from all over the world continue to inspire many.
“Live your life to the fullest because it can change in an instant,” Sylvia Guerra Fortuin is a two-time breast cancer survivor who was first diagnosed with Stage III Breast cancer in 2013. “I had gotten my mammogram and then 6 months later was when I felt the marble which was crazy it all happened so fast.”
Sylvia underwent chemotherapy for months and shares how her body has never felt the same.
“After each treatment, I would end up in the hospital because I became weak, my heart was weak, I lost my fluids,” she said.
Despite that, Sylvia became cancer-free. Unfortunately, her battle was not over. Five years later she was diagnosed again in 2019.
“That was when I felt another lump and it was on the same breast, I just about died,” she said. “It was very upsetting and I should have really demanded my right breast to be removed at the time.”
Sylvia was receiving treatment at Texas Oncology in McAllen. Her medical oncologist, Dr. Alvaro Restrepo shared the importance of an early diagnosis.
“Since the pandemic started many women are delaying their mammograms or routine checkups or some treatments. The mortality has increased and then the disease diagnosis is a little bit later and that makes the outcome a little bit worse,” said Dr. Restrepo.
He explained that mammograms are crucial especially for those who have a family history of breast cancer, adding the earlier the diagnosis the better it is to treat and cure it.
Dr. Restrepo recommends doing self-examinations starting at age 18 but said for those with a family history of breast cancer, checkups should be done depending on the age the family member was first diagnosed.