When Liliana Estupinan accompanied her mom to a doctor’s visit, she saw a promotion for a screening blood test. She jumped at the offer and soon learned something was wrong. The doctor ordered a pap smear and a breast ultrasound, then a diagnostic mammogram. A biopsy confirmed stage III breast cancer.
Liliana chose Gulfgate Health Center to begin her recovery. “God blessed me the first moment I knew it was cancer,” she says. “My doctor was the clinic’s medical director, and she took care of everything. She got me appointments at Smith Clinic very quickly.” She started weekly chemotherapy.
“I’m a happy person, and I’m very happy having my treatment at Smith. The care is wonderful. They are all very nice to me. I’m thankful, so I bring donuts to the staff from the first floor up to the fifth.”
When she told Harris Health her story, Liliana was continuing chemo; radiation and a mastectomy were on the horizon. “I’m facing it one day at a time. People say you should live as if this is your last day. I live life like it’s my first day.”
Chemo takes its toll. After each treatment, she feels bad for three days – and that’s not easy to handle for someone with a larger-than-life personality. “It’s harder on my family than on me. It’s especially hard for my mother because she lost her sister to cancer,” Liliana says. “Sometimes I’m scared, and sometimes I cry, but I don’t want others to feel sorry for me. I enjoy life. I eat whatever I want. Not even cancer has made me lose weight!”
She tries to be aware of every moment. “I want to live my experience, not another person’s. Many people hate the word ‘cancer.’ They think it means death. Cancer isn’t contagious, and it isn’t embarrassing. It’s normal. We can’t be scared of it.
“Material things and the way we look aren’t important. It’s more important to enjoy life – your family, your kids, your work. I enjoy each moment. I love THIS moment.
“Everything, even cancer, happens for a reason. We just have to find it.”