Living with Triple-Negative Breast Cancer
(#21 in a series)
She went from triple-negative breast cancer patient to cancer patient advocate, and she’s appreciating every single moment.
Like many women, Eileen Z. Fuentes never heard of triple-negative breast cancer until she was diagnosed with it herself. And, like many of us, she discovered the lump in her breast with a casual touch.
Even though there was no family history of cancer, the mother of three girls was greatly relieved when genetic testing determined there was no genetic link.
Only 34 years old at diagnosis, her nine months of aggressive medical treatment included a lumpectomy, after which she opted to have a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. That was followed by four and a half months of chemotherapy.
On the topic of mastectomy, Eileen says, “I breastfed all three of my daughters for over a year. I was unafraid to let my breasts go. Additionally, I am young survivor and wanted to have my breasts [reconstructed].
Her participation in a clinical trial was not without complications. A blood clot required additional treatment. Still, she believes her prognosis is quite good. “I was diagnosed at stage 2A, with no lymph node involvement. That, and my lifestyle modifications led them to believe I am in a good place.”
From Cancer Patient to Cancer Patient Advocate, with a Grateful Vibration
Feeling slightly out of place in existing support groups, Eileen sought to find additional ways to cope, both for herself and for others. After two years of training, Eileen founded and led the first Women’s Wellness Series at Columbia University Medical Center so she could share what she learned with other women.
I asked if her experience with triple-negative breast cancer changed her philosophy of life at all. With a resounding “yes,” she answers, “I cherish every moment and feel blessed. I have seen a friend die from triple-negative breast cancer and the fact that I am still here makes me feel incredibly grateful, and I live my life with that vibration.”
She also made a few lifestyle changes … nutritionally, professionally, spiritually, physically… “The list is endless,” she says.
Next: “Happier and Healthier” Despite Multiple Losses: Turning Negative to Positive