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Survivor Finds Motivation to Fight Cancer

Survivor Finds Motivation to Fight Cancer

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Ilda Sanchez was told she had stage III breast cancer and had resolved to not seek treatment. She was referred to Harris Health System’s Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital where staff and her family convinced her to battle the disease.

Her family—husband, Luis, and six children, ages six to 17—changed her perspective and pushed her to fight and live. Today, she’s cancer free.

Her oldest daughter, Violetta, says her mother had always worked too much and didn’t take care of herself. The family eventually convinced her to quit her job and focus on getting well.

At first, Sanchez was scared, but she made friends with other cancer patients at the hospital and relied on her family and church friends.

She had surgery to remove part of her left breast and 26 lymph glands, followed by 16 chemotherapy sessions at LBJ Hospital. She also had 35 radiation treatments at Harris Health’s Smith Clinic.

Now the family is celebrating their new life. Sanchez’s battle with cancer changed her family for the better. She’s become more active in church, cooks more and spends more quality time with her family. Her goals are to take care of herself and for them to be happy.

“Cancer brought our family together,” Violetta says. “We’re closer and we talk more now.”

Sanchez is grateful to Harris Health, especially her oncology team. Knowing the family was going through financial difficulties, staff would rally to give the children gift cards and toys for holidays and special occasions.

The family has advice for other cancer sufferers.

“Have faith in your doctors,” Violeta says. “They need you to trust them. My mom was skeptical, and that was difficult. I could see how hard the doctors were trying and they never gave up.”

“No matter how hard it gets, try everything,” Luis says. “You go through all of it to get better. People should never give up.”

Sanchez urges women to get mammogram exams and offers this advice.

“Don’t be scared. Trust in God and the doctors and remember that at the end of the tunnel, you find light.”

Sanchez and her family will join hundreds of breast cancer survivors Oct. 28 as Harris Health honors their perseverance and heroic fight against cancer at its annual Breast Cancer Survivors Luncheon.

The event is held in October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and hosted by affiliated partners Harris County Hospital District Foundation, Baylor College of Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

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