Garland ISD is celebrating and honoring breast cancer survivors and fighters during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In her own words, #GISDCancerWarrior and Director of Human Resources Tanya Ramos discusses her journey and gives hope to those still fighting.
Tell us about your journey.
The year before my diagnosis, I had just remarried. It was one of the best years of my life: a new and loving husband; two grown, fun and handsome sons; a new stepdaughter; a close extended family; a fantastic honeymoon; and an exciting career. I felt that everything was coming together for me, and I was honestly living my best life.
Before the year came to an end, I went in for my annual mammogram. I then received a follow-up call that I would need to go for a sonogram due to an irregularity. I wasn't alarmed. In fact, I had considered not going in at all. I received that same call during the previous year's mammogram screening, which turned out to be nothing. I really did not want to pay for another expensive ultrasound only to be told it was nothing.
After much thought, I erred on the side of caution and made the appointment. At the ultrasound, it was determined that I would need a biopsy. This time, the radiologist used terms that I had not heard before, such as "architectural distortion." After doing some "Google research," I knew that it was very likely that a diagnosis was coming.
Six surgeries, 36 radiation sessions, countless doctor appointments, long-term medication and almost three years later, I am feeling close to my old self. As anyone who has had surgery will tell you, you will not be at 100% again. My body reminds me to stretch, exercise and eat right. I wear compression sleeves when I travel, and my team of doctors monitor me while I look forward to my first milestone: five years in remission.
What words of advice would you give others who are still fighting?
I would tell those who are still in the fight that it is OK to lean on others and allow them to help you. They do not find it burdensome. I would tell them to hang in there and reach out to survivors. It gave me strength and hope to know of and talk to survivors. They provide invaluable advice and guidance. I felt that if they went through it and survived, I can too.
How does it feel to be a survivor?
When you are first diagnosed, you don't know what to expect, which can be scary. You follow your doctor's advice and keep faith that you will be healed.
You do things that you never thought you could. For example, I was told to go to a radiation treatment appointment every weekday for six weeks. Well, I've never done anything every weekday for six weeks, but I did it.
You do a lot of praying and leaning on others. The support I received was unreal, especially from people you wouldn't expect. You realize that there is nothing you can't do with the help of others.
Being a cancer survivor is something that I will always live with, but I'm living. I continue to be here for my family, friends and our GISD employees. There is so much more that I still have ahead, and I will savor every minute of it.