Lupita's Story - Surrounded by Faith, Family & Support

In 2016, long-time Yuma resident Lupita Gonzalez noticed a change in one of her breasts. But like many women, she just rationalized it away. “I didn’t have any pain,” she said. “I didn’t even feel a bump. I just noticed that the tissue was starting to change.”

Something unexpected happened, though, that led her to take it more seriously. Her daughter was sitting in school one day when she heard a voice say, “Don’t be afraid to die.” When she came home from school, she told her Mom what happened. “I kind of got worried,” Lupita said. “I didn’t want to ignore that, so I went to my doctor. He sent me to have my mammogram. In days, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.”Lupita, Cancer Patient

“They sent me to the cancer center, and for me, that place is a blessing,” she said. “Everybody is there for you. They treat you like family and you could see that they’re feeling what you’re going through. They really put all their effort into helping you. Every time I go there, I just feel so welcome.”

Lupita learned that she would need to undergo surgery and chemotherapy. “My husband, Armando, was very, very supportive,” she said. “He was there for me all the time, just reminding me to keep everything as normal as possible. This helped me so much during the treatment process.”

One thing the mother of three struggled with, though, was how to tell her youngest daughter, Sarai. “I asked God to give me wisdom on how I could tell her without hurting her and in a way that she can understand.”

The inspiration she needed quickly came to her. “I remembered I had a bowl of fruit and one of the pieces of fruit had a little spot on it. I told Sarai, ‘Look at this fruit. Can we still eat it?’ And she said, ‘Yes, Mom, let’s just take out the black spot.’ I said, ‘Okay, but we’re going to wait until tomorrow.’” By the next day, the spot had grown a little bigger. “I said, ‘Do you remember how small this spot was and how big it is now? Well, something like this is happening to Mommy and I’m going to have to have treatment and surgery.’ Even though there were tears on her face, she understood and I told her, ‘Mommy’s going to be okay, with God’s will.’”

Lupita kept up a brave front for them during her treatment. “When my hair started falling out I would just act so happy in front of my children. I was like a little clown. But I had my moments when I would just go to my car in the morning, cry myself out and pray,” she said. “I am thankful to have felt God’s comfort.”

“What I really cherish, more than everything at the cancer center, is everybody’s friendship.” – Lupita

“As a family, we are growing strong in the Lord,” she said. “I had to put all my faith in God and be very, very thankful that I have a place where they can help me.”

Lupita is very appreciative of the support she received at the cancer center, including the fact the staff was available to call if she needed them at any time. “The cancer center even offered me a massage,” she said.“ They just really took care of me.”

She also received nutritional support and other services through the Cancer Resource Center. “I felt pampered all the way. They taught me how to look better while I was going through this process. They provided me with makeup and a wig.”

“What I really cherish, more than everything at the cancer center, is everybody’s friendship,” Lupita added. “They’re there to listen to you, to give you a beautiful smile and are just willing to help however they can.”

Once Lupita finished her treatment, nurse practitioner Carrie Lopez began working with her on a survivorship plan to guide her through the next steps, such as follow-up appointments. “She’s been just amazing,” Lupita said. “I can call her if I need anything. She’s been very supportive and she keeps track of everything that I need to do next.”

Lupita compares fighting cancer to moving a big mountain. “You’re not going to be able to lift that mountain, so you have to move one rock at a time,” she said, explaining that those rocks symbolize things such as medications and appointments. She said she learned to take one moment at a time. She also decluttered her life, both mentally and physically, and improved her diet, all of which made a big difference in the way she felt.

“Thank God, I’m doing much better right now,” she said. When asked what advice she would give cancer patients who have been newly diagnosed, she replied, “The first thing is to turn fear into faith. And don’t be afraid to go get help.”
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