Maria Ramos

“Early detection is everything, not only for women of color but for all women”

I am a native New Yorker, born and raised in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. I moved to Meriden, Connecticut in 1990 with my two sons.

In the year 2001, I was hospitalized for gall bladder surgery. I had mentioned to my nurse of a lump in my breast and was concerned because I had lost a considerable amount of weight.

When I was discharged I had made an appointment for a mammogram. After the mammogram, I was told then that I had a calcium buildup in my right breast that they would have to keep an eye on. My next mammogram was for the following year. When I went for the next mammogram I was told that a lump that doesn’t go away was of some concern. I was advised to have an ultra sound done on my right breast. The ultra sound indicated there was something there, but that they couldn’t tell what it was because it was behind a mass of tissue. I became very upset, stating that what ever it was, had been there behind the same mass of tissue as the year before. I was angry knowing that I had waited about ten months to be told that there was something abnormal. This time it was suggested that I see a surgeon; a biopsy would have to be done. I called the surgeon that had removed my stones. In my visit with the surgeon, I asked him to please remove the whole lump not just a piece of it. I made him promise me that he would, he kept his promise. Five days later I received a call while at work from my surgeon asking me how I was feeling. My answer was that I was doing and feeling just fine. He paused for a moment then told me that in examining the lump they had removed they found “Microscopic” Cancer. I felt like my world had just fallen on top of me. And the only thing I could think about at the moment was how I was going to tell my family. But I held strong and asked the doctor what would be my next step. He said that a Stereo tactic biopsy, a test to see if the cancer had spread to the left breast or anywhere else in my body would have to be done. I had to wait 48 hours after that test; it seemed like an eternity by this time I had lost more weight.

The call came on a Sunday and I was told that everything was OK. The test showed it was benign. I asked if I was able to go on my vacation that I had planned and was told to go and enjoy myself. I enjoyed every minute of each day. To my surprise, I received a message to call my doctor as soon as I returned from my vacation. I found out that the surgeon had to go back inside the right breast, this time a bit deeper. There were more microscopic pieces removed to make sure nothing was lingering deep inside. This time around I was left with a right breast that didn’t look pretty at all. I was given radiation treatment for about six weeks afterwards at the Mid-State Medical Center in Meriden.

The doctors and staff members who attended to me were just wonderful. They were always caring and patience. I always felt that I was getting the best with each of them. I thank every single one of them because it is something I wish no women should go through.

It’s all behind me now and I will be cancer free for five year’s this November. First, praise the Lord for my blessings. The prayers and love from my family and friend’s are forever lasting. And our faith in the lord is what gets us all through these trouble times.

The Lord also blessed me with a wonderful man who came into my life during my ordeal. His compassion and understanding was without a doubt what I needed. He was by my side every step of the way. He gave me the strength and more than I ever expected. We were married this past year. This will be my last year on my medication “Tamoxifen.” What comes after this I don’t know, but I tell you this: don’t ignore nor neglect anything that is different with your body, know it well, and do get your mammograms as needed.


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