If you met Ms. Monique Flores, you would know right off the bat that her personality is addictive; she’s fun to be around and encouraging of others. At the age of 33, she’s been a proud employee of Baylor College of Medicine for 10 years as the administrative assistant for Hematology/Oncology. In addition, Flores is studying business and pre-law and works weekends at the Galleria. She also loves giving back to the community as much as she can.
Ninety days ago, her busy life took a major turn when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Discovering the diagnosis
While doing a self-breast examination, Flores discovered a lump about the size of a quarter. Shortly after, Flores went to see her PCP for her annual exam and to discuss the lump. Her PCP performed the clinical breast exam and confirmed something was unusual and warranted diagnostic testing.
Flores immediately chose the Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center at Baylor College of Medicine for the state-of-the-art diagnostic testing, treatment and care.
After enduring half the day of nerve-racking tests including a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy and a full weekend to receive the pathology results, the doctor gave her heartbreaking news that she was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer.
She felt shocked and numb all over. How could she, at the tender age of 33, be diagnosed with breast cancer?
Dose of reality
As many know, breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women but not for younger women. Only 1.8 percent of women between the ages of 20-34 are diagnosed with breast cancer. Women between the ages of 55-64 are the leading ages for breast cancer diagnoses with a whopping 24.8 percent. In 2013, The U.S. National Cancer Center Institutes of Health estimated that 232, 340 women were diagnosed with breast cancer. See a graph of these statistics in a Chron.com article.
Now, Flores was a part of that percentage. That didn’t stop her; she went on with her life with a smile still on her face.
Shortly after 21 days of treatment, reality hit Flores when she saw that her hair was falling out.
“It was like cotton candy,” she described, her voice full of emotion, “That was the lowest point and I knew I had no control over that.”
Still, Flores put on a brave face and continued on with her life. Her positive attitude remains while she fights breast cancer. She’s so full of life and says that she remains positive during this time of stress because of her faith, family, friends and her Baylor family.
“My sister Monika is my rock; she was there when I was diagnosed,” she said, “She looked at me and told me that everything was going to be okay.”
Flores still continues to volunteer and enjoy life. For others who have received a recent breast cancer diagnosis as well, she recommends that they focus on living for today and remaining the moment as much as possible.
Raising awareness every day
Flores emphasizes the importance of being aware about breast cancer and getting mammograms, especially if women have a family history of breast cancer.
“Breast Cancer awareness is not just a trend or something that you celebrate one month out of the year,” she said, “It’s not about wearing pink. It should be celebrated every day, and every young woman should be aware.”
After meeting Flores three years ago, I know that she’s a brilliant young lady, full of life. I hope that her story touches every young woman out there who reads this.
Read more in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month
- Improving quality of life, management of breast cancer care
- Stories of breast cancer patient strength, progress of survivorship
- Tour de Pink: Raising money for breast cancer research
-By Charmaine Hudson, Front Desk Specialist, Patient Business Services