Good morning ladies and gentleman, as October comes to a close for the month, we remember those who have fought for their lives and are still fighting to this day to find a cure for a disease that comes in many forms. This month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and our job is to be educated and aware of the early signs and stay united in the fight for the cure. Breast Cancer is not just a women’s disease but also a men’s disease.
I want to tell you a story about a daughter, mother, wife and accomplished dancer. Her name Sonia Vargas.
This is her story told by my dear friend Valerie Padilla, her daughter.
Sonia Vargas, 23 years ago never knew that simply taking a bathe would change her life forever. She worked as a secretary, was a dedicated mom, wife and she loved to dance. She taught her daughter Valerie, everything she knows about dancing, which I have witnessed first hand, from the Salsa, Tango, Fandango, Bolero and many more. Sonia was around 39 years old when she discovered a lump under her arm during a routine breast exam. Monthly exams of your breast are very important for early detection.
After discovering this lump, she immediately went to the doctor and had a mammogram done and they discovered a mass in the early stages. They were able to start her on chemo and began her fight. Sonia, a beautiful woman, lost all her hair and like most woman, the depression started and she felt she was no longer attractive. The family did everything they could to help her regain her confidence by buying her wigs and telling her she was beautiful everyday to keep her spirits up. Positive prayers and proper treatments made the cancer go away….so they thought.
One year later, the breast cancer that once was a distant memory, came back more aggresive. Sonia was given not alot of options accept for a masectomy. Women who are faced with the prospect of losing their breast, it is not an easy decision. We pride ourselves on how we look and in making this decision she decided to do nothing. Of course, the cancer decided to spread and it invaded so aggressively that it grew out of her body as a 3rd breast on her chest and became a part of her everyday life. She, like many women loved to look and smell good at all times and to have to live day by day with a growth on her chest, losing her hair and feeling sick all the time, it felt like she lost a big part of herself.
Her daughter Valerie, said that as her mom became sicker, she had to take care of her bathing and feeding her regularly. Valerie accounts that the growth smelled like rotten meat to everyone and people stared at her all the time. As the months went by, she became thin and frail and was admitted near Fathers Day of June 1998. The hospital she was admitted to was where she worked and she had the best care around her family and friends. When she was in the hospital, her doctor told her that it was so aggressive that chemo was not working and there was no cure.
She had to make another decision and she decided to keep it from her kids. Valerie was a teenager and being the oldest of 3 children, she felt helpless, pain and she wanted to do everything she could to take care of her mom. Her mom was her inspiration and hero growing up doing the dance group together and she just wanted to help her mom. After awhile, Sonia couldn’t speak but she could hear everyone. All her family, friends and co-workers did a prayer chain and sent flowers to lift her spirits.
October 24, 1998, Sonia Vargas got her wings at the age of 42 and left behind a spirit in her family that will last forever. It has been 21 years and Valerie celebrates life everyday for her.
Valerie and the women of her Empowerment Group just recently took a trip to Puerto Rico October 11, 2019 and we celebrated Valerie’s 43rd birthday!! Chapter 43 for Valerie was important to her and sharing her moms story touched all of us.
Her moms angelic looks, spirit, heart for dance, her love and caring for others and beautiful personality inside and out shines through her everyday.
Below is a chart of what to look for when you do your monthly breast exam. Early detention is the key.
I want to give a big thank you to Valerie Padilla for allowing me to share her mom’s story and to educate other women about the importance of early detection and treatments.
“Living my birthdays not just for me but for my mom’s life” Valerie Padilla
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