Juan Marroquin admits he’s a stubborn man. For five years, his family tried to get him to see a doctor about a growth above his left eye. “I was scared of hearing bad news,” he says, “so I put it off. And by putting it off, I created a bigger problem.”
His doctor took one look at Juan’s forehead and said, “Cancer.” He biopsied the spot and called the next day to confirm the diagnosis.
Juan went to Harris Health Ben Taub Hospital for more tests. While he was there, he pointed out an area of concern on his right breast. Both were cancerous, and were removed in back-to-back surgeries in June 2012. He had chemotherapy and radiation at Harris Health Smith Clinic.
He credits God, family and doctors with his survival.
“The doctors, the way they talk to me, make me feel safe,” Juan says. “Everyone, from the security guards to the nurses are really nice. They give me hugs.” As he talks, an employee walks by, calls him by name and smiles. “You see? You see how they make me feel?”
According to the American Cancer Society, men are 100 times less likely to have breast cancer than women. Did that bother Juan? Not at all. “I was one in a hundred. All those women in the waiting room and me. I was the lucky one.”
Juan took time away from his welding job to concentrate on his recovery. His wife, Nora, and their two children were with him every step of the way. “I don’t know what I would do without them.”
Juan is cancer free now and returns to Smith Clinic for quarterly follow-ups. He says the experience has changed his life. “I feel different now. I see things. I appreciate everything more. I used to be critical of people. Now I see positive things about them. I’m happier.”
He also takes better care of himself. He exercises. And he listens to his family. “Now if they tell me to go to the doctor, I go. I tell people, ‘If you see something different on your body, go to the doctor. Don’t wait until the problem gets big.’ My problem didn’t go away. It got bigger.
“Thank God I’m still here. If I’d waited much longer, I might not be. Go see your doctor early.”