Elena Madrid made an appointment for a physical at Aldine Health Center in January 2014 expecting a routine check-up. Thirty minutes after her mammogram, she was called back into the exam room for a second look. Referred to Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital for a diagnostic mammogram, doctors told her she had a lump in her left breast and needed treatment.
The news was hard to hear. “I try not to remember it. It felt horrible. I fell into a depression.
“I had no clue,” she says. “I had no pain or discomfort. They told me I should decide if I wanted to keep my breasts or not. I told them: whatever the doctors think is best.”
She started chemotherapy at LBJ Hospital — at first, twice a week, and later, once a month. In May 2015, she had a left breast mastectomy.
“LBJ is excellent. I rate it five stars. I was spoiled by the doctors and nurses. They talked with me when I was anxious, and let me know everything was under control.”
On the same day Elena shared her story with Harris Health, her doctor told her she was cancer free. “I feel like I’m getting an award! When the doctor told me, I wanted to yell with excitement! I feel blessed to find people [at Harris Health] who make me feel better.”
Originally from Honduras, Elena is happy to be in the United States, though she has no family here. A lot has changed since her diagnosis. She worries more about her health and is more proactive. She eats healthier, more fruits and vegetables, no red meat. And she does everything her doctors suggest.
She stays busy. She likes to sew clothes for herself and others. She also operates a small business selling Honduran products to individuals. And she’s an encourager for other cancer patients. She tells them to trust their doctors and medicine — they are created by God for healing.
Elena is very thankful to God, to Harris Health and to friends and family.
Asked about her future, she says it looks much better now. “Better things are yet to come. I want to help others who are in my shoes.” Referring to her recovery journey, she says, “It wasn’t easy, but with God’s help, it was worth it.”