Zoila Argentina Natividad Muñoz Vargas, 36 Years old, Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic
Nat, as she likes to be called, jokes with us about tissues being on the table. ‘Are we tempting fate? I’m definitely going to cry now!!’ she laughs as she knows how emotional she can get. This young 36-year-old mother of two has become used to her emotional ups and downs, just as anyone going through her ordeal would have to. Over a year ago, Nat was diagnosed with breast cancer. She speaks very matter of fact and presents her illness exactly how it is. Documents and folders fill her shaking hands whilst she is explaining all the different treatment procedures she has been going through.
Natividad is one of five children with four older brothers, cancer is hereditary in their family. This is why she has come to the terribly difficult decision to undergo surgery and have a double mastectomy.
The pains that led her to this decision began long ago, it was however only recently that she discovered she too, like so many previous family members, had been caught by this terrible disease. Nat was taking her 11-year-old son to the doctors to have a lump checked, which had appeared on his neck. She said “I normally don’t worry, as it is common in our family”. Nat had previously seen her gynecologist who had passed off the lumps in her breast as normal. Yet, on this particular day she asked her son’s doctor to take a look. After his referral for more tests, she tells us of the courage she needed to hear the news. The diagnosis of breast cancer was confirmed.
The chemotherapy treatment is still tough on her, yet the hardest part for her is having to support her children, trying to let them know, it’s not the end of world. She needs immense strength to get through all of the hardships she has with her breast cancer treatment. That strength is given to her from God. Her determination shines through and her positive energy is nothing short of impressive.
One year on since the diagnosis and she is still under going chemotherapy. Her health insurance is just enough to help out with chemotherapy. But now, she has used up all the money she is entitled to and her husband, a computer technician, has had to get a second job.
The steps of her treatment have become the structure for her everyday life. After she has completed all rounds of chemotherapy, she will have to undergo the surgery to remove both breasts. Once recovered from this operation she will need a PET scan to be able to determine if the cancer has progressed, spread, decreased or vanished, all possibilities are open at the moment.
In the past, the Dominican Republic has been able to give patients PET scans. Recently, and the cause is yet to be confirmed, throughout the country, no hospital can offer a PET Scan. Unfortunately, this is exactly what Nativdad needs!
Luckily, Natividad already had a visa for the United States, and after approaching us for help, Krebsallianz were able to offer her the funds, thanks to many donations! Natividad flew to Miami and had the PET Scan. Back in the Dominican Republic, with results that looked very promising. She has had a month of daily radiation therapies and now has to undergo hormonal treatment for the next five years. “May God bless you all” she smiles, through some of her tears, and tells us how she knows she is already cured. She feels it from God and the people surrounding her. It is just a question of time and sitting out the procedure. Her unwavering strength and admirable determination leaves us all speechless.
Three years after her diagnosis Natividad underwent a major surgery, not only did she take the enormously brave decision to have a double mastectomy and a hysterectomy, too. Natividad’s doctors advised her to have a small lump removed from her neck as a precautionary measure. Currently she is continuing her chemotherapy treatment and taking Capecitabin on a daily basis and she must undergo a PET Scan every 6 months to check the status of her cancer. Unfortunately, this is only possible once a year due to the enormous cost of such a test. The test is still unavailable in the Dominican Republic so many people travel to the US which adds large sums to their already expensive treatment.
We will try our best to support Natividad in the future. Natividad says
“To Krebsallianz, in particular, I thank you very much for the support you offer to those, who are also going through similar situations to mine and fighting cancer. Often they do not have the economic resources to pay for medicine and treatments. Thank you for taking the initiative to help the foundation Divino Niño Jesús. I will continue to fight for my health so that my children can count on me for as long as God wants and I hope I can rely on you and make myself available for whatever you need from me.”