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Francis Escobar

Francis Escobar’s first indication there may be something wrong was leakage from her breasts. Her primary care physician at Baytown Health Center ordered a mammogram and ultrasound. A second mammogram indicated a tumor, and a biopsy led to a diagnosis of Stage IV cancer.

She cried and tried to make sense of it all until, she at last, “decided to let God take control.”

She began chemotherapy at Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital. Her oncologist recommended a mastectomy, but on the day surgery was scheduled, her immune system was compromised; the operation was delayed for a month.

During that time, the tumor reduced in size, so her medical team elected to remove just the lump. She followed up with radiation therapy at Smith Clinic.

Throughout her care, Francis worked in a taqueria from 3 a.m. to 3 p.m. She left work only long enough for treatments and returned to work. “With the help of my sister-in-law, I did everything on my own. I met other women who couldn’t do for themselves and felt bad for them.

“The oncology department has been great to me. I liked that my doctor speaks Spanish. That makes it easier for me to open up. He took time to talk with me.”

She completed treatment, but returns to LBJ every four months for check-ups. Staff members say they always welcome her smile.

Francis made big changes in her life. Most notably, she takes nothing for granted. “I’m grateful for each day,” she says. She also changed jobs and no longer works 12-hour days where she feels unappreciated. She cleans houses and does other side jobs, so she has more time for herself.

“Cancer was an eye-opening experience. Now I see more than work. I see a world where women suffer from disease. I believe I was used by God to talk to other women, to pray with them. I tell them to hold on tight to God. Not even your family understands what you’re going through. God does.

“I’m thankful to be alive.”