The Miami Herald

Irma Berger

Last July 30, I turned 85 years old. And for the past 5 years I’ve been concentrated writing the history of my family for my children, my grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces and nephews. And I tell myself: Had I not overcome breast cancer surgery and following treatments I would not have been able to immerse in writing all I do remember. My goal is to leave a spiritual inspiration for the young generations in my family.

My cancer awareness started when my single sister, at 59, was diagnosed “right breast cancer” and I turned to be her only caretaker. Unfortunately, the only specialist she trusted failed in a substantial manner: he omitted follow-up chemotherapy. Six years later, at 65, cancer had begun spreading in her body. I was with her all the time, at home, at the clinic during doctor’s evaluations, surgery and post-surgery. Whatever steps and decisions she took, right and wrong, were factors that contributed to my knowledge and recovery of my own health when I was diagnosed a similar cancer back in 2000, a year after she died.

I was 76 and my right breast cancer was first degree. I consulted a first specialist but even though I trusted him I consulted during the same week two other well-reputed specialists at different clinics. Then I went back to my first specialist and we both agreed for surgery, I remember it was a Monday, by Thursday at was at the clinic at 7 a.m. ready for surgery and asking him to remove whatever other part close to the breast he found affected. He assured me I could trust him. And that is how he proceeded. After a radical mastectomy he prescribed oral chemotherapy over 5 years. But, besides knowledge and experience while undergoing a cancer treatment I believe that three factors combined for my benefit: courage to face it and act promptly, confidence in the specialists in charge of surgery and treatment, and full hope in God’s mercy. Don’t be afraid of cancer, fear is your enemy, hope combined with discipline are your allies. And now … I shall go back to my memories, I am working my eldest sister chapter, and I’ve still many more stories and anecdotes to write down. Yours sincerely, Irma Berger

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