"This Is Me" by Lucy Leyva

My family has a group text: two brothers and sisters. Mom and Dad don’t text. My Mom gets upset when we don’t answer our phone. “Pa Que quieren esa chicharra si no lo van a contestar.” They’re old school. My brothers and sisters usually share texts like: “Mom and Dad are having a barbecue. What time are you getting there?” One day I had to send a different kind of family group text: “Hi guys, wanted to let you know that I have to get a second mammogram and sonogram on Wednesday. They found something on my left breast, so I’m going to get a biopsy done next Friday. Please say a little prayer that it is nothing. I don’t feel anything. It doesn’t hurt. That’s a good thing, I hope. I was trying to stay positive.”

My brothers are not much for words but when I told them about my surgery they had words the right words at the right time. My brother George said, “Going to pray my ass off sis.” My brother Julio sent a gif with the Fresh Prince dancing the Carlton.

I ended up taking a week off from work for the surgery. I work at Janie and Jack, an upscale children’s store at Northstar. I’m an assistant manager.

February 9, 2018, the day of my surgery. I was so nervous I was constantly going to the ladies. I always have to pee when I’m nervous. I hadn’t had anything to drink because you know they don’t want you to eat or drink before surgery. I didn’t know where all that pee was coming from. My mouth was dry. I just kept thinking, “They are going to find cancer.” It all became surreal and I had to pee all the time.

Surgery went well. I went home that same day. Back to all the emotions, back to all the what-ifs. I was told not to lift anything over ten pounds for four to six weeks. I just thought, “I hope my new nephew Maddox doesn’t weigh more than eight pounds when he is born. And I hope he wouldn’t come to early as my recovery was just starting.”

I cried and got a little depressed at the thought of not carrying him and not being able to bond with Maddox. I didn’t want to be a stranger. I wanted him to feel my love. My grandson, Jackson, would also be born two months after Maddox. Two new babies in the family that I wanted to hold with all my Love.

My surgery results came February 20. Dr. Santillan came in to the room with a big smile. “How are you doing, Luz?” My dad had named me Luz. I always joke Dad named me Luz because I am the light of his life. I didn’t feel too much light in that examination room with Dr. Santillan. I told him I was nervous. He said, “You have nothing to be nervous about. Everything came out good. No cancer.”

No cancer. My Husband gave me a Hug when we got home and he just held me as I cried tears of relief.

I wasn’t relieved that I didn’t have cancer because I felt I was still going through emotions. The pain,discomfort the pulling I felt in my breast Basic life stuff…I couldn’t do like go shopping/working out with my daughter, band stuff with my son. I wasn’t getting well fast enough. I moved up my six-month follow-up to five-months. I thought I felt something hard, and it moved. I freaked out. I thought, “Cancer appeared. It’s hard and it’s moving.” The doctor didn’t feel anything so I was sent to therapy. I knew then my journey of recovery was not over.

I met with Rachel for my therapy evaluation. As I waited to see her, there went my bladder filling up, you know cause I was nervous. I sent my sister Raven a message for a prayer of strength so I wouldn't cry,but when I heard my phone buzz I didn't want to read what she had to say cause I knew it would be uplifting and it would make me cry. I turned it off. I am strong I can talk about this, I told myself.

As I spoke with Rachel I felt I went in for two types of therapy: emotional and physical. We came up with a game plan to what my therapy would be.

I had a hard time dealing with why I was there. I had a biopsy. I had a mastectomy/lumpectomy procedure. I don’t have cancer. This place is for cancer patients. Why am I here? I met a wonderful warrior at therapy who beat cancer four years ago. I told her my story and apologized for feeling the way I did. I told her how I was going through the motions of cancer but I didn't have it and felt guilty.

“You have nothing to apologize for,” she said. “I went through the same pain. Removing a part of you is a big deal. Just do what Rachel and her team ask of you and you will be fine.”

I was hopeful.

Few weeks went by I was at another session. I saw a woman there for her therapy. I saw how hard it was for her to lay on her back. I saw myself in her because I also had trouble lying on my back. At that moment I realized I was going through the motions of cancer and I allowed myself not to feel guilty and afraid ashamed of my scar cause this is me ready to Fight!!

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