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Egrezelda Vargas

In 2013, Egrezelda Vargas discovered she had late stage breast cancer after her leg broke while she was washing dishes. X-rays revealed a suspicious area. Cancer specialists at Harris Health System’s Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital later confirmed the spot stemmed from breast cancer that had metastasized to her bones and spine.

Almost immediately, she began oral chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Doctors surgically inserted a plate to repair her leg and removed a tumor that had spread to her spine. While most of her care occurred at LBJ Hospital, her spinal surgery was done at Harris Heath’s Ben Taub Hospital.

“I was devastated,” she says. “My family and sons were too.”

Her close family got even closer—rallying around her. Confined to a wheelchair, Vargas required constant attention. Her husband quit his job to care for her full time. Her sons, 23 and 21, who were pursuing careers in accounting and law, temporarily dropped out of school to support their parents.

Vargas continues chemotherapy and is encouraged by her treatments.

Before her diagnosis, she worked as a caregiver in a retirement home and enjoyed taking care of her elderly patients. Now, uncharacteristically, she relies on others to care for her.

“My husband helps me do everything,” she says. “My pastor and church sisters visit often and help me. I get my strength from God, my family and church.”

Today, Vargas encourages women to get annual breast check-ups.

“It’s important to go to the doctor,” she says. “If women have a mammogram every year, if they have cancer it won’t be as advanced as mine.”