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Survivor Stories: Duvetsa Ramos

Breast cancer affects millions of women each year, and it leaves a lasting impact on each woman’s life long after it is gone. The impact touches women of all ages in all different ways.

You might be a wife, a mother, or a daughter battling the disease herself. You might be a mother, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, or close friend of someone going through it.

Each woman leaves more of a legacy than she may ever know in the lives of those who love her. Few legacies show the strength and determination that shine through in the fight against breast cancer. As we all work together in raising breast cancer awareness, we also hope for a future that knows nothing of breast cancer and its impact on the lives of women everywhere.

It is with great honor and respect that we share the stories of these women we know as wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, and most importantly -- as survivors.

For our past, our present, and our future … Every Woman Counts.

Duvetsa Ramos

In the spring of 2004, Duvetsa Ramos went to the Women’s Health Center when she felt a lump that she had never felt before. As she talked with the physicians and underwent testing, she discovered that the lump was cancerous. “If I hadn’t realized that the lump was unusual, I might not have known,” says Duvetsa. “It was very scary to think about what could happen, and it was shocking to discover that I had developed breast cancer.”

Duvetsa Ramos

As she prepared to fight the disease, she thought most about her four children. “They were all very young when this happened, and I knew they didn’t fully understand what was going on. But they knew something wasn’t quite right with me,” she says. “My mom knew the most about what was happening, and she was there for me every step of the way. She was going to appointments, helping care for me before and after my surgery, and taking care of my kids when I didn’t have the strength. I couldn’t have done it without her.”

In the fall of 2004, Duvetsa was declared a survivor. Even though she and her family celebrated, she knew she would have to continue checking herself for any changes that seemed unusual. It was to her credit that she did, because in the spring of 2011, Duvetsa was diagnosed with breast cancer again after finding a second cancerous lump.

Although the experience was no less overwhelming the second time around, she did feel more confident in the proven treatment approach she knew she would have. “It is truly a team of physicians who stand by your side,” says Duvetsa. “From diagnosis to treatment, I could count on Dr. Hall, Dr. Harwood and Dr. Marvel to answer any questions I had. The second time through, I knew I needed to have the same surgery as before, so I felt comfortable knowing exactly what would happen.”

As she battled the second time, her kids knew more of what she was going through. Her oldest daughter Alexis remembers crying herself as her mom told her the news. “I knew it had happened before, but I didn’t really remember it. This time, I knew what it was that she would go through and I was scared for her. I had never seen my mom cry, but as she told us through tears, I knew that she was scared too.”

The kids made an effort to help their mom in any way that they could, now that they were old enough to understand. Working together with their grandma again, the kids tried to keep life as normal as possible for themselves and for their mom. “I knew she would get through this,” says Alexis. “I knew that she would be okay, because she was before. I had confidence in the doctors and in the treatment, but I had the most confidence in my mom. She is strong and determined and I knew she would do whatever it took to survive again.”

In the fall of 2011, after undergoing the same treatment approach as she previously had done, Duvetsa was declared a survivor again. “We are grateful that we can celebrate again,” she says. “Even though I’m a survivor, these experiences are part of me and part of my family now. They were impacted significantly, just as I was. I believe the strength and support of my family made a huge difference for me.”

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TOPICS: Cancer care, Foundation