Sandra Hernandez was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 29 and almost eight months pregnant with her third child. When she noticed inflammation in her left breast, she and her doctor thought it was caused by hormones. It did not improve so she had an ultrasound, and then a biopsy.
“I was very sad when I learned it was cancer,” she says. “My mother died of breast cancer when I was 18. This brought all the emotions back.”
She stayed busy during the day, but at night she cried. “I think my baby felt my sadness and came early.” Two weeks before her due date, Sandra’s family took her to the Houston Zoo as a distraction. During the outing, her water broke and an hour later, baby Stephanie was delivered at Ben Taub Hospital.
One day after she and Stephanie were discharged from the hospital, Sandra was back to keep an appointment with her oncologist. A month later, she started chemotherapy.
“God does everything for a reason,” Sandra recalls. “When I had a low moment, I looked at Stephanie, so tender and innocent, and knew that she needed me.”
And there were low moments. After the first chemo cycle, Sandra lost her hair. Stomach pain prevented her from eating enough to get full. But soon, the doctors discovered her tumor was shrinking. Following eight cycles of chemo, she had a mastectomy and then started radiation.
Sandra found everything she needed at Ben Taub—excellent care, a wig when her hair fell out, a prosthesis, educational materials, friendships.
She says that she feels very good now, thanks to God and family members who cared for her, her husband and dad, her godmother, sisters, brothers and her grandmother, who came from El Salvador to help out.
“I value every minute, every second with my family and friends. You never think this will happen. When it does, it changes your life. I believed in God before. Now my faith has grown. He has given me another chance at life.”
What would Sandra tell others who walk in her shoes? “Have faith in God. The news is hard at first, but God will lift you. Use the power of positive thinking. Don’t let yourself get down, don’t isolate yourself, find help. Be with friends.”