My name is Nora Barzaga and I am a 6 & ˝ year breast cancer survivor. My journey started when I had my yearly mammogram in October 2002. I had it done at a mobile unit from Memorial Hospital that was brought here at work. I didn’t think much of it but then I got a letter that I needed further evaluation. I immediately called my doctor and got an appointment for a deep compression and before I left Baptist I knew something was up because the radiologist himself told me that he was recommending a biopsy.
November 15th of the same year I had the biopsy and November 18th I had my results. Breast Cancer. I had a 3 cm tumor and we caught it at a very early stage. On December 10th I had a lumpectomy. My oncologist recommended chemo and radiation to be sure that we got all the cancer. So, on January 28th 2003 I started chemo every 3rd week for 6 months followed by daily radiation for 8 weeks. I was sick but not as bad as I had imagined. Yes, I lost all my hair but I decided to proudly wear my baldness and that opened up many conversations with women who had survived and women that were going through treatment. I did get some stares but I never let that make me wear a wig.
I am one of the lucky ones, the cancer had not spread and the course of treatment made me cancer free. I was the first in my family, in my generation to be diagnosed with breast cancer. Unfortunately, there have been 4 more women in my family diagnosed after me; the youngest only 30. I sometimes feel guilt because my struggle wasn’t as bad as some others. But I am grateful to be so blessed that I can now mentor others that are going through this illness.
I was fortunate to have had a good insurance plan, great doctors who moved the process quickly for me. Not all women and men are so fortunate.
After I was well I decided that I had to give back and bring help to those that needed it most. So I started participating in Race for the Cure, Relay for Life and last year was extremely blessed to have been a part of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer 3-Day. It was a long 60 miles walked in the course of 3 days but it was a great way to celebrate my survivorship. Emotions ran very high all that weekend but I was able to share it with thousands of survivors. We all have a different story but we all want to end our journey at the same place…we all want to be survivors.
Why do I walk? I do it for the survivors, for those who will be diagnosed but especially for those who have lost their battle. We need to find a cure so that our daughters and granddaughters don’t have to travel this path.