El Paso

Breast cancer survivors sharing experiences after Estela Casas' diagnosis

Breast cancer survivors share their...

EL PASO, Texas - "I am a survivor."

Those four words unite women and men who have taken on breast cancer and won the battle.

Susie Mowad Mansour received the devesting diagnosis in her early 30s. She had just finished breastfeeding. Doctors told her she had stage 3 breast cancer.

"I actually took it better than anybody else. My doctor was actually shocked. He said 'You have cancer and you are not upset.' And I said, I have so much to do deal with right now. My family's emotions, my kids'. I have two little kids. And so, just ran with it," Mowad Mansour said.

Mowad Mansour opted for chemotherapy. That treatment was eventually followed by a lumpectomy.

About one in eight women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime, according to the National Cancer Institute.

KVIA anchor Estela Casas just received a devastating diagnosis and has begun her battle with breast cancer.

"After reporting on breast cancer for more than three decades, I join thousands of women and men fighting against this potentially deadly disease. You've noticed that I've lost weight, I hadn't felt this good in such a long time. But looks can be deceiving. I have bilateral breast cancer," Casas said.

The news shocked Casas, her friends, family and co-workers. She had just had a mammogram in December and no problems were found. But a reaction to a tetanus shot lead her back to a doctor's office and more tests.

Casas' diagnosis has started a conversation throughout the Borderland. Many people are reaching out to her to share their experiences and advice.

"I went to a lot of support groups and I just pushed through.  I think my kids kept me going because they are little and they did not know what was going on and I just had to push through and  keep doing everyday activities," Mowad Mansour said.

Mowad Manour received treatment over a year at University Medical Center. She has been cancer-free for about four years and is using her experience to help other breast cancer patients. She now volunteers her time at the hospital helping others take the next step after being diagnosed with breast cancer.

The hospital has one room full of scarves and wigs for patients who lose their hair.

"They will help you find someone to talk to, they will help you to find a wig or scarves. They can teach you how to wrap the scarves," Mowad Mansour said.

Twenty years ago Elisa Vallejo was diagnosed with breast cancer for the first time. Since then she has developed breast cancer twice more and twice more beat it.

"The first time was 20 years ago. And then ten years from there, and here I am again," Vallejo said.


"You have to be a fighter. You have to think positive and you have to keep going on with your life."

But cancer patients do not have to go on alone. Both Vallejo and Mowad Mansour said the importance of family and community support cannot be overemphasized. They advise patients not to be afraid to lean on others.
 
"I don't let me get it down and so they see my strength and continue on. And they help me, they support me very much," Vallejo said.

When asked what they had learned from the experience, Mowad Mansour said, "You know you can't take anything for granted. You never know when you are going to be faced with a struggle and you just have to face it head on."

Advice from both women is simple yet potentially life saving.

"You have to do the mammograms, and self exams. If you even suspect anything , you go and see the doctor," Vallejo said.
 
Advice Casas followed and helped her catch her breast cancer.

“Getting that tetanus shot was a blessing in disguise. I will be taking some time off a few days a month to fight the good fight like so many other women in our community. I have a strong and compassionate team of family, friends, doctors, bosses and co-workers who will be with me on this cancer journey. But more importantly I have turned it over to God. I would greatly appreciate your prayers,” Casas said.

 


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