64-Year-Old Breast Cancer Survivor Enjoys Life, ‘Baby’
Since 2009, when Onjel Roach first felt a lump in her right breast, cancer has been part of her life. She saw her doctor at Harris Health System’s Settegast Health Center and had a mammogram at Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital. The diagnosis was devastating.
Though she continues to battle other cancers, her motivation is to enjoy life and, now, her baby—a grandchild born in 2015.
On Oct. 12, she joined other breast cancer survivors at a “Pink Out” Celebration hosted by Harris Health. The event featured a lighting of Harris Health’s Smith Clinic and reunited cancer survivors with physicians and staff to celebrate their stories of strength and perseverance. All were treated through Harris Health’s Ben Taub Hospital, LBJ Hospital and Smith Clinic.
Her breast cancer was treated with a barrage of chemotherapy, a lumpectomy and radiation. However, in 2011, doctors found cancerous cells in her kidney and removed them. In 2013, another lump in her breast led to more chemotherapy and a mastectomy of her right breast.
Roach, 64, remained cancer free for a time and lived on. She traveled, enjoyed her grandchildren and continued her work at the U.S. Postal Service. But in 2016, cancer returned in her neck. She had three months of radiation and is now taking chemotherapy.
“Through it all, I’m still up and going,” she says. “I’m enjoying life and my ‘baby.’”
“I learned a lesson during my first bout of cancer: I can be cured. I can keep going. I stopped working and get more rest now, but I do everything I want to do. I’ve lived in Houston my whole life, so I travel a lot. I want to see other places.”
Cancer and Harris Health have given Roach a circle of friends she didn’t have before. As an active member of the cancer support group, she shares her experience with newcomers.
“I inspire others who are beginning their journey,” she says. “I don’t talk as much as others, but I believe people sense my strength. They come up to me and ask for a hug. It’s a blessing.”
“I’m on a journey, and God will bring me through it,” she adds. “I want people to know not to give up. Life goes on, and we’re meant to enjoy it to the end.”