In the fall of 2011, Martha Elena Tobias discovered a discharge from her left breast. When she was diagnosed with cancer the following January, she couldn’t take it in. “I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” she says.
She asked her doctor at Harris Health Ben Taub Hospital what would happen. She remembers the answer very clearly, “Everything will be okay. We’ll help you through it.” And they did.
A supportive team was with her every step of the way: mammogram, biopsy, six months of chemotherapy, a mastectomy and more chemo. “My care has been very good. The doctors and nurses give me lots of good information about the treatment and side effects.”
The cancer has been harder on her family. They have always been a close family; now they are closer. She spends more quality time with her children, three daughters and a son; and her husband accompanies her to every appointment.
Without a doubt, Martha’s life has changed. She stresses the importance of breast self-exams to her daughters, ages 21, 19 and 13. They have taken a big interest in her treatment, asking about care for their mom and for themselves. Martha also has made lifestyle changes. She eats healthier foods and exercises more – walking, biking and dancing.
Her outlook on life is different too. “Fighting for my health has been a life lesson,” she says. “I try to be positive, even on difficult days. It’s important to be strong, to not give up. My advice to other patients is to stay with the treatment and always smile.”
Martha both accepts and gives advice in the breast cancer support group. “I have become very close to the other patients and receive a lot of encouragement from them. I’ve had excellent care from the doctors, the nurses and the Cancer Resource Center.”