Margarita Saenz never had an idea that something might be wrong. She was 48 when last year’s annual check-up revealed breast cancer. A suspicious mammogram led to an ultrasound, then a biopsy indicated stage III cancer in her right breast and lymph nodes. Later she learned her cancer is genetic.
Her journey included chemotherapy, a bi-lateral mastectomy, another round of chemotherapy and radiation. In addition to the genetic component of her disease, Margarita was told she is at risk for thyroid, pancreatic, breast and ovarian cancer. Knowing this she decided to have both breasts removed and to schedule surgery to remove her ovaries once she completes treatment. In May 2017, doctors discovered thyroid cancer and performed another surgery.
All her testing, treatment and surgeries have taken place at Smith Clinic and Ben Taub Hospital. “The care has been wonderful,” she says. “I’m thankful for everyone who crossed by path. They care about me. From the security personnel to nurses — I never see long faces.
“I tell other patients that cancer is not the end of the world. Have faith, including faith in your doctors. Go to all your treatments. Don’t be scared.”
Margarita is grateful for her family and church friends who have supported her. Her faith keeps her going. “I stay busy and don’t have time to think of my illness. Cancer taught me I’m a fighter. I’m a very strong woman and can do anything I want.”
What is it she wants? “To continue living life.” Though she’s taken time off to attend to her health, she looks forward to returning to work and doing the things she loves so much: traveling, dancing, shopping, spending time at the beach and at her church. “I want to enjoy life to the fullest!”
She also wants to share her experience and wisdom with other women. She encourages them to have regular check-ups and to stay positive. “My favorite Bible verse is ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ I tell women to be strong. Keep fighting. Don’t give up.
“The last 12 months went by fast. I’m not done yet!”