Facing Breast Cancer with Dignity and Strength
Starting at age 40, women are strongly recommended to get a mammogram every year. At age 51 in May 2012, Sandra Guzman had her first mammogram, and soon afterward, learned she had Stage II breast cancer.
She received the life-changing call at work, where she was asked to return to Avera Cancer Institute for a follow-up appointment. Only mildly worried, Guzman quietly processed her condition; a concerned coworker actually shed tears for her.
“Staying silent and facing reality is how I process things,” said Guzman. “When you fall down, you get up and keep going. This was only going to be a bump in the road.”
“In Good Hands”
Guzman has long been part of the Avera family. A mother of three, two of her children were born at Avera in Sioux Falls. Through regular appointments over the years, she has gained confidence in the expertise and technology that is available at Avera.
“I knew I was in good hands,” she said.
Those hands belonged to her extensive breast cancer team at Avera, where she was treated like an individual. After meeting with Guzman and her family, specialists recommended a treatment plan that embraced her own unique journey and began scheduling future appointments.
Sandra said she couldn’t have gone through breast cancer without a nurse navigator, who was a source of information and comfort.
Guzman’s Breast Cancer Treatment
The first step in Guzman’s breast cancer care was surgery, in which a specialized breast surgeon from Avera Medical Group Comprehensive Breast Care removed the tumor as well as concerning lymph nodes. To ensure Guzman would feel normal and feminine after treatment, the surgeon took tissue from the healthy breast and inserted it into the affected breast. Guzman was impressed by the surgeon’s intricate work.
She then received a MammaPrint, a test that analyzes her genetics and the genetics of cancer to determine the risk of metastasizing to other parts of the body or even the likelihood of returning. Her journey wasn’t over yet; she spent over six weeks receiving daily radiation treatments at Avera Medical Group Radiation Oncology.
Not only did her treatment occur in the clinic, Guzman stepped up her own lifestyle at home to ensure she was doing all she can in her cancer treatment. She cut sugar intake by 75%, carbs by 50% and became a Zumba enthusiast.
Many factors can increase a woman’s risk for breast cancer. Read more about how to reduce the risk or even help prevent cancer by changing the way you live.
Serving Other Women
Guzman now serves on the volunteer committee for a Sioux Falls’ based American Cancer Society program that encourages community for Latina women and families facing breast cancer. In fact, Latino physicians and patients from all over Sioux Falls attended to rally support.
In addition, Guzman reaches out and speaks to women, one-on-one over the phone, all over the country who are facing breast cancer.
“Some women aren’t around close family members, and sometimes husbands don’t understand a wife’s worries about an intimate part of her body,” explained Guzman. “I share my journey and offer words of encouragement so no woman has to feel alone.”
Schedule Your Mammogram
Wherever you are, Avera offers mammograms near you with advanced technology and a care team that will guide you through whatever life throws your way.