Nueva Vida Working In Your Community

Ana QuijadasAna Quijada

When I was 34 years old, I felt a lump in my breast. I didn’t have health insurance and didn’t know what to do or where to go. I applied for financial assistance through a local clinic, but then found it very difficult to find anyone to schedule me for a mammogram because I was under 40.

I waited and waited for calls back and felt desperate and alone. I finally confided in a friend who was a nurse and she helped me get an appointment right away for a mammogram through a program funded by a Susan G. Komen grant.

After the mammogram results were suspicious, I was referred to a breast surgeon who told me that I shouldn’t worry because I was much too young to have breast cancer. He said he could do a biopsy, but he didn’t think it was necessary. I pushed for the biopsy which confirmed that I did indeed have triple negative breast cancer.

I kept my diagnosis a secret from my family. I had two biopsies, met with an oncologist and scheduled my surgery before telling them. I was worried about them – I didn’t want them to be scared or sad. I knew that telling them would be the most difficult part of this journey.

I disappeared from my friends, too. I was about halfway through chemotherapy when I ran into a friend who told me about a local support group at an organization called Nueva Vida, a Susan G. Komen grantee. I decided to attend a meeting, which changed everything for me. I finally had a network of support from others who knew exactly what I was going through. After finishing my treatment, they trained me to be a peer supporter – providing support to women who are newly diagnosed with breast cancer. And they showed me that no one should ever go through this disease alone.