Noemi Abril

It was a good day when Noemi Abril began receiving care in the Harris Health System. For six months, she worried about a lump in her left breast. A mammogram revealed there was reason for concern, but she needed expert medical care.

In January 2012, she had an appointment with an oncologist at Harris Health Ben Taub Hospital.

“I was blessed,” she says. “Everyone was nice to me, but especially Lizette Martinez and Laura Peña in the Cancer Resource Center. They helped me be stronger. I never felt bad. I felt good and learned there was something beyond cancer — an opportunity to appreciate life.

“Even when I got my diagnosis, I felt calm. I’ve always been strong, but I knew I’d need to be even stronger.”

Noemi started a treatment regimen of chemotherapy, mastectomy, more chemo, radiation and the drug, Herceptin. The day before she was interviewed for this story, she heard those magic words, “cancer free.”

All of her care was delivered at Ben Taub and Harris Health Smith Clinic. “Thank God the care was available. There are so many people to thank, I could never choose just one person. Everyone was always smiling, always ready to help. I’d like to give everyone an award.”

Noemi is different since her cancer. “I’m more patient. I don’t just live. I enjoy life. After the thunder, there is calm, and I feel calm. I saw cancer as a sabbatical. I think God wanted me to slow down. I want people to remember me as a person who got back up after the worst moment. Losing a breast does not make me different.

“I thank God for my second chance. I want to wake up every day, look up at the sun and live life. I met a lot of really good people because of this experience. It was a gift from God. I feel I am one of the chosen.”

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