Maria Falcon doesn’t want to be a poster woman for a breast cancer patient’s recovery. Staff at Harris Health System’s Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital called her a “miracle” for her positive attitude and high tolerance for treatments.
Today, the petite lady shows few signs of her struggle with stage III breast cancer.
Falcon was working in December 2012 when she experienced pain in her left breast. After several tests, including a mammogram, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Falcon had surgery to remove her left breast and lymph nodes, then radiation at Harris Health’s Smith Clinic.
“Cancer is a scary word,” she says. “I dreaded telling my children. A social worker helped prepare me to talk with them.”
Her oncologist recommended six months of chemotherapy to reduce the tumor before surgery. Except for hair loss, she experienced no side effects. Still, she was inspired by her son, then age 10, who repeatedly told her, “Don’t worry, Mom. I love you.”
“He was my support,” Falcon recalls. “He assured me I would be OK.”
She also had two younger children, 4 years old and 6 months old at the time, so she found great reason to live. She relied on her brother, friends and church family to help her through recovery.
Immediately, she changed her eating habits and drank lots of water throughout treatments. The staff was amazed that she suffered few side effects from her treatments, maintained high energy and drove herself to appointments.
“They said I was a miracle,” she says. “Everyone was so nice and so kind. I’m cancer free now. I was a bit stunned. Other patients are surprised I’ve had cancer and that I’m a survivor. I encourage them to be strong and to keep going.”
Falcon takes her role to encourage others seriously. At least twice a month, she can be found in the hospital or clinic waiting areas reminding patients to keep the faith.
“I tell them they are not alone,” she says. “They can rely on the people around them, and it’s important to be happy.”
Her family’s happiness is a priority now. Her jobs allow her plenty of time to be with her children. Best of all, she’s happy and is looking forward to a long future with them.