How One Woman Changed My Views About Breast Cancer
Tita Nini (not her real name) was the first person in my life to be diagnosed with breast cancer. She is one of my mother’s best friends and was diagnosed at Stage 2 around 13 years ago.
Her husband works abroad and she has one son. Before chemotherapy and radiation, she had a mastectomy. It was a difficult year but not once did we see her cry.
My daughter was about eight years old then and I remember coming home one day and her telling me, “Ma, Tita Nini showed us her mastectomy scar.” I was shocked but my daughter explained what it was and I was amazed that Tita Nini was able to make kids understand what breast cancer was and what it can do to a woman’s body.
Thanks to Tita Nini, I learned that there is always hope. That breast cancer isn’t fatal. “It is one of the gentlest cancers,” she told me one time. Thanks to Tita Nini, I learned that the best weapon against breast cancer is early detection.
She always had a happy disposition. She took on breast cancer with a matter-of-fact attitude—no tears, no drama. After her mastectomy, she wore bathing suits fearlessly while the elders clucked thinking she was being brazen. She wore wigs even if she was all sweaty because she could’t bear going around bald.
Okay, this story isn’t all smiles and laughter. Tita Nini’s family went into debt because of her illness. She became weak and her immune system, at one time, almost shut down. The medications she took had many side effects. But her strength and willpower prevailed.
So how did her story end?
Oh, this story has a happy ending. Tita Nini was declared cancer-free 12 years ago. She’s still smiling and happy.