October is breast cancer awareness month, and while having a whole month dedicated to teaching, learning, and getting ourselves checked is great – there are still 11 other months of the year where self checks are JUST as important.
Since launching Fit Mom Strong Mom I have “met” some of the most amazing women from around the world – many who have been through some of the hardest and most challenging times. These women are moms, wives, business owners – they all love fitness – they all have a story.
The following interview is with Fit Mom Strong Mom Ambassador, Lisa Marquez – Breast Cancer SURVIVOR who so open and honestly shared her story with me, in hopes that we can help, educate, and inspire other moms on this very important topic.
FMSM: Can you share when the first time you thought there might be a problem and how you knew you needed further testing? Was it through a self breast exam? Was it at a doctor visit? How old were you?
So, Back in 2012, (my last amazing running year) I had a groin injury/lower abdomen pain which for the next year and half went without diagnosis. Doctors could not pin point what was wrong with me, only guess, because even on my MRI’s, nothing showed.
Finally, (jump to February 2014) after trying everything (including rest), I saw yet another doctor who said that clinically I was showing all the signs for a sports hernia. He recommended a laparoscopic surgery to go in and see wth was going on. At this point, I was desperate and agreed.
The night before this surgery, I was lying in bed and said to my husband, totally joking, “What if they open me up and its cancer!?” He said, “Is that how you think!?!” lol. I was like, “well shoot, who knows at this point!” Anyway, in that moment, I said well, let me do a self check and that’s when I found the lump! My husband said, “Don’t go freaking out!” I wasn’t freaking out at all -I was simply annoyed that I had to, yet again, deal with another issue ( that I didn’t think would lead to anything). All I wanted was to run pain free again.
A week after my surgery (which it turns out I had a tear in my abdomen) I went to my OB/GYN to get the lump checked. She said it was probably nothing, but lets get it checked anyway.
On February 10th, I went in for my first ever mammogram and ultrasound. Ouch! I knew as I laid on the table for the ultrasound, that something was wrong. I felt it in my gut. They immediately read my results and the radiologist came in and said “I’m highly concerned it’s breast cancer.” I was 39 years old.
FMSM: Do you have any family history or were you the first in your family to experience this?
LM: No family history…I was the first.
FMSM: Can you walk me through the process of treatment? Were you given options? How did you cope with it? (Running? Praying? Support group? Spreading awareness?)
LM:Everyone’s treatment process is different depending on the cancer and size. My tumor was 7 cm, which is pretty big, so the doctor recommended doing chemo first to shrink it as much as possible, then do surgery to have whatever was left, removed.
That is exactly what I did, but let me say this…you ALWAYS have options and don’t ever let a doctor tell you other wise. Do your research. In the beginning, it was so new and unfamiliar, that I mostly put my trust in my doctors. I was fortunate enough to have an excellent oncologist, but I interviewed/visited a couple of facilities before deciding on this doctor/facility.
So my process went like this:
Everyday what got me through this was the simple phrase I said to myself, “At least cancer happened to me and not my children.” I’m in tears now. It’s still so difficult for me to talk about. I would take this on again and again if it meant it was me and not my babies!
FMSM: How has life changed for you since?
LM:I found a stronger version of me. Cancer literally stripped me down to nothing. It’s quite humbling. You think you know yourself, but then I realized I didn’t at all. I learned a lot about myself during this time and while it was such a tough time, in a way I think, this was my path to the me that I am now. I was so fragile and vulnerable post cancer – I was an emotional mess and had to work everyday to rebuild myself and find my way again.
FMSM: What advice can you offer women about how important breast health is? What advice can you offer someone newly diagnosed? Someone currently going through treatment?
LM:The best thing you can do is to just check yourself at least once a month. Do it in the shower, or when you lay down to go to sleep. Check Instagram again before going to bed (you know you do it! lol) and then check those boobies!
If you’re newly diagnosed, try to stay calm until you get all the details. I know it will be hard, but once you have a plan, you will fall into “fight” mode. It can all be overwhelming at first. So much terminology and so much to take in, so what I recommend for this is to buy yourself a little notebook and document EVERYTHING. I would write the date and take notes on how I felt and I would document all of my doctors visits and what they told me. I made a separate section for Q&A for my doctors or things I wanted to research. You will forget things so I feel this is SO important. WRITE IT ALL DOWN. After cancer, I was able to help a friend, newly diagnosed, (who I’ve yet to meet) because I was able to reference my notes.
FMSM: Please share something exciting going on with you now! Anything! Brag away! ANYTHING!
LM:Well, the biggest most exciting thing for me right now is my new business (www.getonyourmarq.com). To have finally made this dream come true has been so rewarding! I don’t know how many times I’ve talked myself out of starting, but I finally said “If not now, then when!?!” Life really is too short and can be snatched away from you in the blink of an eye, so, take the time to snatch up your goals and dreams NOW. The minute I said YES, it was SUCCESS in my book.
Remember, Life can be as exciting as you make it, so find something to be excited about each day!
If you would like to connect with Lisa you can find her here: