San Juanita Escobar: Breast Cancer Journey of Strength & Hope.
I was born and raised in South Texas; I am 32 years old. I have two amazing boys and a wonderful husband. I am currently serving in the Texas Army National Guard where I am a Sergeant First Class and the Non-commissioned Officer in Charge for the J8 Resource Management Office. I will hit my 15-year anniversary in November.
I am also currently the State Director for Texas United World Pageant. I did beauty pageants as a young girl and stopped when I joined the military. While I was a recruiter, I kept meeting young girls that would say they couldn’t join the military because they were too “girly girl” or would lose how beautiful they were while being a Soldier. I started doing pageants again to show them that no matter the career path you can and will always be beautiful. I have been Mrs. Texas Galaxy 2018 and Mrs. Texas Regency 2020-2021. I won my Regency state title exactly one month after having my bilateral mastectomy. The reason I choose to do the pageant was so that I had something positive to focus on and to spread awareness on the importance of annual checkups.
So, for my breast cancer journey. I was diagnosed with stage 1 ductal carcinoma just 6 months postpartum at the age of 29. I went in for my annual checkup and was told something was there. My doctor said it was best to get it checked even though it could have just been a clogged milk duct being that I had just had a baby. I went to the radiologist with the mindset that I would not be leaving without a biopsy scheduled if it was confirmed that I had a lump. It was confirmed! The following Monday I had my biopsy and just 24 hours later I was called and heard the words NO ONE ever wants to hear “You Have Cancer”! I remember being in a state of shock because I was just 29 years old with a 6-year-old and a 6-month-old.
I snapped right out of it and went into soldier mode. I started getting my course of action in place. I went in Dec 5th for my annual and by Dec 10th of 2019 I knew I had breast cancer. All I knew was I needed it out of my body. I remember telling my husband while he was at work 5 hours away that it came back as cancer. That evening he was at home by my side planning all doctor appointments I would need. I decided we would process all the information and doctor appointments just him and I. We would wait to tell our family and friends that I was diagnosed once we knew everything and had my surgery scheduled. He was and is truly my rock, supporting any decision I made and just stood by me for whatever was needed.
I went to 20 plus appointments in the month of December, with my surgery date placed on Jan 22, 2020. Telling my family was hard because we didn’t have a history of breast cancer and I was so young. After my surgery, it was painful, and I definitely had moments of “why me”. The thing is, playing that card only makes you more miserable and makes you feel more down. I found out a week later that I would have to go through 4 rounds of chemotherapy. This would happen during the very beginning of Covid-19, so I went to my appointments alone and just did what I needed to do. All the while with the thought process of dying was not an option! It is very easy to go down a negative road when it comes to cancer, it’s just why do you want to make yourself feel worse about the situation than it already is.
So, my husband and I just enjoyed the time we were getting with our kids since we were on lockdown. I do remember hearing the horror stories of chemo and was dreading what would happen to me especially with a pandemic going on. However, my chemo story was not nearly as bad as what I was thinking was going to happen. Saying this isn’t to take away from someone’s struggles or pain, instead is to give hope and a little light that not all chemo journeys are the same and keeping a positive mindset can make all the difference. I am a firm believer in the saying “Look good you will feel good, feel good you will be good”. I would get up and put make up on and just smile.
Breast cancer has had so many medical advances that waiting to be checked or treated is not the right answer. You will either have it or not, waiting doesn’t change that outcome. So, knowing for certain sooner than later is what will ensure your rate of survival stays high! Here I am going on 3 years after my diagnosis in full remission! My advice to you is go get your annual checkup, and if your doctor finds something of concern get it checked! DO NOT wait! Learn how to do self-checks as well, your life is worth fighting for!