In December of 2022 Esperanza received her breast cancer diagnosis:  Triple negative invasive ductal carcinoma initially as stage 2 but soon after revised to stage 3.  Like so many others who have faced this news, she was shocked. She had invested a lot of her time focusing on living a healthy and fit lifestyle. She ate healthily, she worked out regularly and had made her personal health a priority.  She and her husband had recently started a new business and this “curveball” was not at all expected.  She credits her nurse navigator for connecting her to the Pink Lemonade Project.  As she put it the nurse told her “If you need any type of support, this organization will be there for you..”

What the nurse did not know was that Esperanza was dealing with some personal feelings – ashamed of her diagnosis and as a result, kept it to herself for quite some time.  However, once she reached out to Pink Lemonade Project she was relieved to realize she was not alone. Like many of us who are diagnosed, friends and family can provide comfort and encouragement. But by connecting with those who have faced all that goes along with a cancer diagnosis, the gains are plentiful. Like the saying goes, there are gains made by connecting with others who have “walked the walk and talked the talk. “Having a support network that has literally ‘been in your shoes’ is something special.” Esperanza relayed.  The connection Esperanza made with others through Pink Lemonade’s ZEST program (for young survivors) and the program connecting the Hispanic community were instrumental in helping her get her groove back. Through zoom calls she gained knowledge and support. In her words it was “amazing to be able to connect with others and ask questions about EVERYTHING I was facing and feeling not to mention receiving helpful hints as I was facing my treatments and eventually my surgery”

The most inspiring thing I discovered about Esperanza was that she kept her commitment to fitness even during her 12 rounds of chemotherapy.  In her words, “It took a while but eventually I decided I was not going to sit around and be sad…I was going to continue my weightlifting. I showed up to the gym 5 times a week for MYSELF.  I hydrated, exercised, and relied deeply on my faith.” And she decided to reframe her feelings of being ashamed and made a decision to share her journey on her social media platform. She relayed that she felt that by doing so she might be able to reach someone who felt exactly like she did initially.

Despite all her family has been through, she is proud that the business she and her husband started just 6 months before her diagnosis has survived and is thriving just like her. “Una Mas” is a private bartending company that operates in the area.  The translation of una mas ione more.  Ironically Esperanza has ONE MORE (final) surgery scheduled soon but she already has a Pink Lemonade bucket list going which includes attending a retreat and celebrating (in style) at Pink Lemonade Project’s Pink Glow in May 2024.

Esperanza is inspiring to this writer.

She stepped forward.
Overcame her personal feelings.
Used exercise as her mental and physical medicine.
Emerges victorious and ready for her next chapter to unfold.

Her power to influence is limitless.


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