Teresa Nava photo

Survivor Story: Teresa Nava

Teresa Nava believes that she has angels watching over her – and one angel in particular who was with her on June 1, 2010. That’s the day the 49-year-old mother of six had a routine breast screening on the mobile mammography clinic.

The results showed a suspicious mass in Teresa’s left breast. She needed further screening and perhaps a biopsy. Moncrief’s nurse navigator, Edna Munoz-Oden, tried to call Teresa to tell her the news, but discovered her phone had been disconnected. Edna called Teresa’s doctor, who gave her two additional phone numbers. Those didn’t work either.

“Edna worked very hard to find me, and she finally sent me a certified letter explaining I had an abnormal mammogram. The most important thing is, she saved my life.”

Financial issues created additional stress. A few months earlier, Teresa had lost her job, and was not insured. With funding from Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the Breast and Cervical Control Program, Moncrief Cancer Institute paid for the mammogram and biopsy.

“They provided encouragement to me when times were difficult,” said Teresa. “This was a great help because I didn’t know where to start or who to go to. Edna helped me go through The Bridge for funding for my treatment. I had DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ), and a doctor performed a lumpectomy. Edna reminded me to continue to be examined in the affected breast every six months, and that was a good suggestion, because later the cancer came back in the same breast. So I decided to have a mastectomy.”

After that, Teresa began to go to Moncrief Cancer  Institute to get the post-surgery support she needed. “I feel great because it is absolutely helpful to me – especially after being ill for so long. I gained some weight after surgery, and the trainer, Stephanie, helped me get back into shape. She’s a good person and is patient with me. Sometimes I can’t move too much or too fast and I hurt. So I tell her and she recommends others exercises or stretches.”

The staff at Moncrief even helps with communication. “I speak Spanish, and if there is a message that needs to get across, there is usually someone available to translate, and I appreciate that. It makes me feel even more comfortable. I still talk with Edna too. All I can say is, she is an angel to me and I’m glad she didn’t give up trying to find me!”