First Chemo and Miami Trip

So my mom called like two and half weeks ago to tell me she was coming to Honduras on May 20th because her employer agreed to let her work from home and even gifted her with the plane ticket. I tell her she should use that plane ticket for later because this is just the first chemo and the side effects will be mild, if there are any at all. Thank God she did come because there were side effects and if that is mild I understand better why mom felt she needed to be there and my doctors keep giving me warnings of what it'll be like.

My wonderful father was at the hospital at 4 am to make sure I was the first one in line to get chemo. Even getting that early, he was second in line. We got there at 5:30 and went inside at 6. They had told me chemo would only last for two hours, but it ended up being four hours and a half. I came out at 11:30 am. I was so happy to be sitting next to a triple negative breast cancer patient. I could finally feel there was someone talking to me who really understood me. It was really hard to see most of the patients were older people. The lady to my other side had finished her last chemo December the 4th. Her cancer came back exactly 4 monts later and she was there on her fourth chemo second time around. You could feel the sadness oozing from her. It was very hard to comfort her fearing her fate was mine. Luckily, there was an on-call psychologist that spent most of the time with her and other patients.

Side effects began exactly 72 hrs after chemo. among them where extreme fatigue, strong stomache, mild to strong but not severe headache, general body pain, nausea, and reflux. The worst part was the smell of chemo that was constantly in my mouth and nose, and I could swear even in my ears. The strongest chemo I am receiving right now has a red-orange color, and I was surprised to see I was still peeing orange 9-10 days after. How could that be in my system for so long? No wonder they do checks on my kidneys and liver. Poor filtering systems! I was so grateful my mom was here.

My husband has a childhood friend called Leonor. We have never met, but she follows me on Facebook and always likes all the pics I put of the girls. Her mom is also suffering from cancer and is in great need of a liver transplant. She is 25 years old and has been carrying the medical and financial bills for her mom and siblings since she was 18 years old. She is so brave and inspiring. Because she has done so much research and medical connections because of her mom, she got a lab to do the genetic test for 3500$. This girl who didn't know me at all had done so much to try to help me. We thought it over and reached the conclusion that with the test's discount we could afford to travel to Miami, make sure the blood sample wasn't tampered by sending it through DHL, and maybe get the chance to see an oncologist there and do connections for future clinical trials.

My dad very sacrificially gave me 1,500$ from his savings. My sister had sent 1,000$, which was almost 90% of two months worth of her salary. My aunt had gotten donations from my uncles, aunts, and cousins from the US and Honduras and gave me 2340$. It was amazing how we had raised enough money without having to burden my mom, who had already paid my surgery.

I contacted many hospitals to try to get an appointment with an oncologist and only Memorial Cancer Institute was willing to help us get an appointment, but we had to give her my medical records, which in this third world country I get in physical and not digital form, wednesday before 5pm. Our plane arrived at 3:40pm, and because I was on a wheel chair, we were able to get out at 4pm. We called Victoria, from Memorial, saying we would't make it before 5 and she agreed to wait until 5;30. We made it there at 5;10!

On thursday we went to get the genetic panel done, which included the BRCA 1 and 2 I needed, and even a more comprehensive genetic testing for other known genes for breast cancer. The doctor was wonderful. He told us he was also a cancer survivor and even shared his cancer story with me. He shared even the alternative medicine research he has done and gave us a prescription for some of these dietary supplements and vitamins. Victoria called us that afternoon to tell us we got an appointment friday at 1.

I was stunned. It was not a hospital building. It was not a cancer building. It was a breast cancer center building. Amazing! The doctor was so incredibly nice. He told me he had been studying the day before my case and spent the night debating my treatment. He came to the conclusion that he thoroughly agreed with the chemotherapy regiment my Honduran doctor is giving me. He was debating because the sessions, dosage, and time between sessions was above the standard care and very aggressive. He was positive it was the best fighting chance for me because of my cancer type and my age would help me withstand the treatment. He did clarify that I would need radiotherapy, which is something to look into because I don't think I can get that done in the public hospital, and he prescribed 33 radiotherapy sessions for six weeks, with a daily session monday through friday. He said that he was 95% certain my genetic test would come back negative, and it was a good thing to have it done to be 100% sure and know if my daughters were in danger and if I need to do a bilateral mastectomy and ooforectomy (removal of ovaries and phalopian tubes). Then he mentioned something of my future children and at that moment I interrupted him and said "What??" And he said "yeah, if you aren't done having children..." And then I interrupted him again. "What are you talking about? I can have more children?". At this point I burst into tears. I even made his nurse burst into tears. "I was definitely not done having children." He said that if the genetic test is negative there is no reason for me not to have more children. He made it clear that my pregnancy had nothing to with my cancer, except maybe the sadness the miscarriage gave me that dropped my immune system and helped the cancer spread. This is why he tells me this battle is a battle of the mind, something I tell him everyone tells me. He says I need to keep positive. He says that I have a 70% chance of being cured with just the surgery, chemo will bring me to 90%, and radio to 95%. He is certain I will be cured. He told me that for the next six months I am a cancer patient, but once I am done I will be a cancer survivor and I need to see myself as such. No thinking in recurrence or reading anything more. I told him it would be hard for me to consider becoming a mom again as my greatest fear is orphaning the children I already have. He said that the good thing about my cancer is that if it doesn't recur in two years, the chances of recurring drastically drop, and if there is no recurrence in five years, I am cancer free for the rest of my life. In five years, you are 35, so why not the kids my heart desires?

I tell you, I left that office feeling uplifted. He told me there weren't any clinical trials I could participate in because my cancer is not considered metastasic yet. But he told me that the chemo I am receiving, paired with the Carboplatin (one of the 4 chemos I am receiving) is already a clinical trial in itself and my chemo regiment is 5 years ahead of it's time. Imagine hearing that of the treatment I am receiving in Honduras in the public hospital?!!! How wonderful! We got answers, we got hope of things I had already given up hope, and a positive outlook. The nurse that called us had even said the appointment would cost 500$. God's grace was with us at all times that when the recepcionist charged my mom 100$ she started crying and made the receptionist cry too.

We got to share a lot of time with Leonor. We even said she is our new baby sister. She had such a special connection with my mom. With all the burden she has had to carry alone, we were happy to meet her, make her part of our family, and get to share with her in the future. She treated us to dinner and drove us all over Miami. She had to leave on friday to Nicaragua to an emergency surgery for her brother and insisted she left her car at our disposal.
We slept the first two nights there with Tia Sara's sister Sara (yeah, they are both called Sara). She and her husband were kind enough to receive us in their home even if we hadn't met and were gracious hosts.
We got to spend the remaining of our time in Miami with Diane, a good friend of my mom. It was awesome to share time with her. She has been mourning the passing of her husband, and we were so happy to share with her and comfort her. I even felt blessed if my cancer could uplift her in the beauty of life. She cooked for us and took us to dinner. It was so amazing the people, doctors, nurses, everyone we encountered. God was felt at every step.

Here are a few pictures of our time there:

Pictures of downtown Miami after the genetic test

We went to La Boulangerie, a cafe we walked to to have lunch and wait for Leo to pick us up after the genetic test. It was a great one on one with mom I hadn't had in years.

Leo treating us to Latin American restaurant.

Diane treating us to Brio, Tuscan grill

First time at Chick-fil-A with Diane

Diane's pancakes, with strawberries and blueberries

Mom and me at Diane's ranch

A view of the ranch and Diane's dog Emely. If I ever visit with the girls, which we hope to do so one day, there will be confusion with Emely and Emmalee. XD
She is a sweetheart.

My head was starting to feel sensitive with a little pain, so we went ahead with shaving my head before it got too sensitive and shaving got too painful. There was a specific area that was already very sensible and I shed a couple of tears. My darling husband who still looks dashingly handsome went ahead and shaved his. The girls had no problem with mom and dad's shaved heads.

Lovely family. My mother-in-love had a fall last Saturday and has been in a lot of pain. Please include her in your prayers.


  1. Linda I don't know you. I got to know your story because of Mommy Daily. I still remember the day you asked us to pray for your results and the day you let us know you had indeed cancer. I've always kept you and your girls and husband in my prayers and reading all of your posts but this one touched me! I wiped in tears reading about this good news that were granted to you. I really hope everything works out well and I'm excited for the BINGO coming soon!

    May God keep on blessing you Linda, you're a strong woman and a child of God, he will protect you as He already does ♥

  2. I just prayed for you because of your post on the Mundane Faithfulness community and found your blog from your profile. I am walking a similar journey but am 41 and recently finished chemo, had a mastectomy and just had an oomphetoctomy this morning. Praying for you and your family and will be following your blog. Hugs to you!