The Miami Herald

Maria Valencia

Our pure inner will is what keeps each and everyone of us going, day by day. I was diagnosed with Stage III Breast Cancer at 26. My Oncologist said that my tumor was not hormonal receptive, so they could not put me on a hormone plan… post treatment. I was put through an aggressive six-month treatment of chemotherapy and radiation. It consisted of three months of chemotherapy, five weeks—Monday through Friday—of Radiation therapy, and then another three months of chemotherapy treatments. I have been in remission ever since. My Son was 2 years old at the time and I often questioned whether I would see him grow up. He is 23 now and grown to be the most amazing, intuitive person I know. I have been through my share of ups and downs in the 20+ years since I was first diagnosed, but through it all I have always been so very thankful of each and every day that I am able to get out of bed and make the best of it, day by day. I remember at 26 after finishing treatment, thinking, “Ok I’ve paid some dues here. Maybe now I’ll cut a break and ride Life “Cruise Free” for a while.” Little did I know that life keeps going with whatever is next in the cards for you. My mother-in-law, who I dearly loved and who took care of me during my treatments, was diagnosed and died of cancer within the year I was diagnosed. 16+ years of marriage that meant the world to me, ended. A family member went through and survived a heart transplant at 44; others close to me fought and survived their own battles with cancer. Starting from ground zero with just about everything—family, finances, work, career, and relationships. As time went on, I thought about the daily cancer fight less and less. I set aside the statistics and made the best of each day. Days turned into months and months have turned into years and now two decades have even passed and gone. We are all facing some type of challenge, fighting some type of battle. Cancer is just one of many. It’s our ability to face these challenges doggedly head on and then go about our lives which will define the rest of the day and our overall outlook. Our pure inner will is what pushes each and every one of us to go on.



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