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A Talk with Two Devoted Daughters

Although Maria and Laura Ramirez were teenagers when their mother Catalina Ramirez was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006, they helped carry much of their mother’s burden. Maria, Laura and their two sisters stayed at their mother’s side, never missing a doctor’s appointment, surgery or chemotherapy treatment. In 2011, they shared the duties again when their mother faced a second cancer, this time undergoing a mastectomy on her left breast followed by chemotherapy. Here is the daughters’ story in their own words:

Maria: That was the lowest point – when my mom got cancer again in 2011. In private, I would cry, I was really scared; it was something new for all of us. But I couldn’t show my mother I was scared.

Laura: I was just 17 when she was first diagnosed and, like any teenager, I had a lot of things going on. But, you have to be strong and you have to grow up. My mom needed us because she doesn’t drive and speaks only a little English. We just made the time. All four of us (daughters) took turns so we never left her alone.

Maria: My mom, I see her as the strongest person ever. Even though she would have chemo on a Friday, by the next Sunday she’d be up cleaning the house, cooking for us - she even put on her makeup. She was always positive.

Laura: We took her to the Spanish support group at Moncrief. I really liked it and my mom thought it was very helpful. She said it was a great experience to be free to talk with people in the same situation…people who knew what she went through.

Maria: And she also got genetic testing done at Moncrief. When the results showed she didn’t have the genetic problem (indicating an increased risk for breast cancer) that made me feel better. I know that everybody’s at risk, but especially with four girls in the family, we feel happy it’s not hereditary cancer.

Laura: I would tell others that you should never give up. I learned my mom was really strong and there is a lot of help out there, and plenty of people who care about you. Remember, whatever you’re going through, the hardest part is not forever.

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