Since 2009, when Onjel Roach first felt a lump in her right breast, cancer has been part of her life. She saw her doctor at Settegast Health Center and had a mammogram at Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital. She says the diagnosis was devastating, then she began a journey of chemotherapy, a lumpectomy and radiation.
Two years later, doctors found cancerous cells in her kidney and removed them. In 2013, another lump in her breast led to more chemotherapy and a mastectomy of her right breast. Then she moved on. She traveled, enjoyed her grandchildren and continued her work at the post office.
In 2016, cancer returned in her neck. She had three months of radiation and is now taking chemo.
“Through it all, I’m still up and going,” she says. “I’m enjoying life and my ‘baby’,” a granddaughter born in 2015.
“I learned a lesson during my first bout of cancer: I can be cured. I can keep going. I stopped working and get more rest now, but I do everything I want to do. I’ve lived in Houston my whole life, so I travel a lot. I want to see other places.”
Cancer and Harris Health have given Onjel a circle of friends she didn’t have before. She met Sheila Taylor through a support group, and the two women share their experience with newcomers. “We inspire others who are beginning the journey. I don’t talk as much as others, but I believe people sense my strength. They come up to me and ask for a hug. It’s a blessing.”
She considers Harris Health a blessing too. “I wouldn’t take anything for the people here. I love everyone I meet. If cancer comes again, I’ll face it at Harris Health.
“I’m on a journey, and God will bring me through it. I want people to know not to give up. Life goes on, and we’re meant to enjoy it to the end.”