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Patient Stories – Ana

“We are survivors and we are warriors, brave, courageous, and beautiful.”

Ana Patricia Ramos Morales and her husband, Edward, moved to the United States from Bogotá, Columbia four years ago. They lived in Florida for a year before moving to Washington, where they now reside with their 17-year-old son, Fernando. Ana is in her early 50’s and was a dentist for 26 years in Columbia. She is a woman of faith who believes that everything she sets out to do intellectually, God allows her to achieve. She feels blessed to have a wonderful husband and loving son and felt her only challenges in life were to practice her profession with love, be a good wife and a good mother. She thought the bravest thing she would ever do was to come to the United States and leave the security of everything she’d ever known.

However, before leaving Columbia, Ana had some biopsies on her breasts. There were no signs of cancer, but the doctor reminded her that continuing with screenings was important because early detection could make a big difference. In Florida she noticed a small ball in her right breast, but then it disappeared, so once settled in Washington she thought it would be a good idea to have it checked. Her doctor sent her to Carol Milgard Breast Center for a mammogram and ultrasound, where they found a mass in the right breast.

“I told my husband this mass is different, I’m scared,” Ana explains, “but they did the procedure. Even though it was painful, they treated us with a lot of kindness, and explained to me in detail everything they were going to do, which made it more bearable.”

Five days later, Ana and her husband went back to Carol Milgard Breast Center where they met with Jennifer Witte, ARNP, CBE-C, CN-BP.

“Jennifer’s eyes were filled with tenderness in the best way when she explained to us the results of the biopsy. I had cancer. Jennifer explained to us about medications, procedures, and where we should go for surgery. She even set-up the appointment with my surgeon for the next day. Only a year before, everything was fine, what happened? No one ever thinks they will get cancer, but at that moment, as I tried to dissipate and calm the flurry of doubts and fears I was feeling, I tried to clarify my thoughts and to understand my life choices.”

After talking with Jennifer, Ana still had a long way to go, because that was the first of two diagnoses. Her surgeon explained they had to do more detailed exams before surgery, and after an MRI, they found that there were four more tumors in her left breast.

Ana and Edward struggled with how they would tell their son, but he surprised them by saying, “Let’s get out of this Mamita, you’re not alone. Daddy and I are by your side. ” They supported Ana throughout her journey, the decision of a double mastectomy and the recovery afterwards.

“The love of God, the love of my son and my husband made it possible for me to wake up day after day with a grateful smile on my face. The journey is all about the attitude with which you face it. Nobody wants to be sick, let alone have cancer. So, despite the difficult situation, the fear, how painful all the procedures were, and the fact that I had to face the decision of a double mastectomy, I can say that what carried me through was love. The love of God and the love of my family.”

Ana and all the others who have taken this journey before her know that to prevent is to cure. Cancer is a silent disease that indiscriminately attacks the rich and the poor, all ages, all faiths, and all cultures. However, accessing adequate health services can become difficult for those less fortunate. Many people are not aware that Carol Milgard Breast Center provides financial assistance to patients who cannot afford a screening mammogram, which is vital for early detection of breast cancer. Knowing that obtaining these grants is not unattainable, is an important story Ana wants to share.

“We are survivors and we are warriors, brave, courageous, and beautiful.”

Breast Density

Ana started the process of requiring a license to become a dental assistant and has now completed her training and works at a dental clinic in SeaMar happy to be back to her profession.

“When one hears the word cancer unquestionably it can generate an indescribable feeling of fear,” Ana reflects, “however, listening to the diagnosis is only the first step in a hard battle. My journey through cancer was one that I traveled through the hand of God, He allowed me to detect it in the early stages, and He allowed the trip to be made in the company of my son, my husband and many helping angels along the way. Today I am alive, I am healthy, I am immensely happy, and I can say with joy and total certainty, that I enjoy every moment of my life.”

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