Cronkite Special to AZLatinos.com
Imagine going through life with everything relatively normal. You wake up, take care of the children, go to work, cook dinner – and put that on repeat. While that may seem mundane and less exciting to some, but for others, living a “normal” life is a real goal. In 2016, it’s estimated that 246,660 women will be diagnosed with a new case of breast cancer and 29 percent of those diagnosed are Hispanic, according to the American Cancer Society. It also states that about 40,450 woman will lose their fight. However, two sisters refused to become a part of that statistic and one foundation refused to let them do it alone.
Cancer changes lives, and helping with that process is the I’mpact One Breast Cancer Foundation. In a situation where women can feel alone, they are a support system. The foundation understands that when someone goes through cancer treatment, personal items are not a priority. The founder, Elizabeth Ayers-Cuff, knew exactly what it was like to be in that situation and now helps any woman in need. With the wigs, prostheses and bras donated to woman who have lost hair and had breasts removed allows for a sense of normalcy – at no charge to them.
One woman that needed this help was Lisa Arevalo, a breast cancer survivor. At the age of 44, Arevalo went to her first mammogram. She stated, “I never went because I was bull-headed,” saying that she thought, “Oh, it’s not going to happen to me.” It was on December 8th of 2015 that she was diagnosed with cancer in both of her breasts. She chose to have a double mastectomy, but stated that the hardest part was not the surgery, but the chemo. “There are no words to describe what it does to you.” She said, close to tears. “People don’t understand the impact that it does to your body.” Because of this, she wants to let her community know that it can happen to anyone. She said, “if this is the reason I’m still here, to get the word out for my community, which is Hispanic community, and if I get just one person to go in and get checked I’ve done my job.”
Arevalo was not the only person in her family to survive breast cancer, her sister Maria Teresa Valdez, was the whole reason Arevalo went for a screening. Valdez, 49, also caught it in time. Valdez was diagnosed with cancer on the October 24, 2014, at the age of 47. To her, it really hit home because her father passed away from colon cancer, which is why she encouraged everyone to get screened. When Arevalo was diagnosed, Valdez knew her sister was going to lose her hair from the extensive chemo. She also knew with doctor bills, co-pays and medication to buy, disposable income for a wig wasn’t really an option. This is a big problem for some Hispanics that do not have the means, money or insurance.
I’mpact One Breast Cancer Foundation made the difference for these woman. When Valdez brought her sister down to their Gilbert location, Arevalo found comradery with the founder, Elizabeth Ayers-Cuff – where they talked about their shared experience of anxiety brought on by the chemo. I’mpact One also gave Arevalo her first wig. She stated, “It’s amazing what they do for woman, not only the wig part but they have prosthetic bras and stuff like that.” Valdez also stated that the foundation wanted to give her sister a tank top with rubber breasts, but they did not have her size at the time. The organization truly has the betterment of woman as their main focus. Arevalo and Valdez think that I’mpact One and Cuff are amazing. “She’s like an angel on earth helping people,” said Arevalo.