3 Lessons from a Breast Cancer Survivor
As a breast cancer survivor, early detection, support, and her faith saved Luida Florendo. Listen to her journey and learn one of her biggest life lessons.
Tired Moms Podcast: Breast Cancer Survivor
Luida: …He said you have the aggressive cancer cell so you have her2 positive breast cancer. Reality hit. So I broke down and cried. I said in my prayer that if it was my time to go, that I would accept it.
Bernie Rosquites: Hello, welcome to the Faith and Family podcast hosted by the tired but inspired moms. We are Christians from the Church of Christ, Iglesia Ni Cristo. I’m Bernie Rosquites, and joining me on this podcast is my good friend, Miss Emirick Haro.
Emirick Haro: Hey, Bernie, hello, hello, everybody. It’s October, which means it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We celebrate those who are battling it– the friends and family members who are in the trenches with them, and those who have survived it.
Bernie: Yes. And we were also helping to spread awareness with our guest today, Luida Florendo. She was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer in 2014. The treatment was so tough on her, she cried herself to sleep, but with the support of her husband, friends, and God, she has managed through it. So she’s experienced a lot, and we are going to learn a very important lesson from her. She is with us right now. Hi, Luida. Thank you for joining us today.
Luida: Hi, Bernie. Hi, Emirick. Hello. Glad to be here in this podcast show.
Emirick: Thank you for joining us. Yes. Tell us how you found out that something was wrong.
Luida: Let’s see started back in April 2014. I had my first mammogram at the age of 42. I was turning 43 in a couple months. When the results came back from the mammogram, the doctor said that I had some calcifications or white spots in my mammogram. So they said we need to check if you have any cancer cells. So they said let’s do a biopsy. So I did a biopsy and he said it came up negative. But he said just to make sure let’s do a lumpectomy, which is a surgery to get some breast tissue sample.
Luida: And after that first lumpectomy, they found a speck of cancer cells and was like in the milligram. It was super tiny, but they caught it early. So I was thankful for that. And then they said you know what, let’s do a second lumpectomy just to make sure that it hasn’t gone to the lymph nodes. So the results came back and it was negative. So that was good. But we said the next step is we need to take it to the tumor board to see if you have the aggressive cancer cell. So when it came back he said you have the aggressive cancer cell so you have her2 positive breast cancer. So that was in August 2014 and he said you need to do chemotherapy next week
Bernie: so when you got the mammogram it came out negative right. And then they said let’s just double check. Is that– they didn’t –Is that how it went?
Luida: Actually when they looked at the results of the mammogram they saw white spots
Bernie: okay to the tiny okay,
Luida: Right and then because I never had any mammogram before that
Bernie: This was your first one?
Luida: very first one so they had nothing to compare it to. So they said we need to check it out.
Emirick: Wow. So it’s really important to have a mammogram, right?
Bernie: Yes, yes,
Luida: Early detection is key. Yes, man.
Emirick: And and when do they recommend starting it? At what age?
Luida: I was at the time I turned 43
Emirick: Okay, so um, your very first mammogram and then that was in April and in four months, you had to start going through chemotherapy? Um, tell us what was going through your mind from the moment that you found out something was wrong, right, because it’s just a routine procedure. Everyone said, get a mammogram and you know, and and you get one thinking it’s just going to be routine, and you find out something is wrong, and in four short months you’re going through chemotherapy, so like, how did you process that in your brain?
Luida: Let’s see, for the first reaction, I was, um…reality hit. So I broke down and cried. And then at the time, I was the only one working, my husband was laid off at the time. So I was thinking how we’re going to pay the bills. How are we going to survive? Right?
Luida: So that’s the initial reaction.
Emirick: Could you feel that something was wrong? Like were you tired? were you feeling sick sometimes or did it just feel like normal like every day
Luida: it’s funny you mentioned that because I had no symptoms whatsoever. So no tiredness, no sore, nothing sore in my my breasts, but it was just because mammogram, they found that there was something there was something unusual about my mammogram. And that’s when everything happened.
Emirick: So yes, because I know I mean, myself, I, I get scared of mammograms. I had one actually, finally, I’m 46 now and I had my first one, like, last year. So for those of you listening, you know, I hope this inspires you to get mammogram and get early so that you can, you know, learn about what’s going on, because like you said, You didn’t feel anything different, right?
Emirick: So just routine. Can I ask when you found out? What were your prayers? Like? How did you? How did you like turn to God and, and, and ask for his help?
Luida: Let’s see, I knew that my life was in God’s hands.
Luida: So I said in my prayer that if it was my time to go, that I would accept it. But then I said, if it was possible, I wanted to fight this breast cancer, I want it to live longer.
Emirick: So it’s almost like that surrender, right? So
Bernie: Surrendering is, is… when you leave it, it’s easy to say like, you know, I’m just gonna leave it in God’s hands, but there are times in the middle of the night. Your mind starts talking to you. But I feel like your conviction to just, “ I’m gonna let God take the wheel.”
Luida: Yeah, right.
Bernie: And, and, and you’re still with us today. And through all this, as scary, as I can only imagine the roller coaster of emotions you were going through, who was supporting you through it all.
Luida: I guess my number one supporter would definitely be my husband, Cesar Lorenzo. He took me to all my doctor appointments to all my chemo, and radiation treatments. He was practically my nurse at home. So he made sure that our was well taken cared of and comfortable. But my other supporters would definitely be family. My family’s in Hawaii, the Langit family there were miles away, but very supportive. Then I had my in laws, the Florenda family who were here in San Diego, then I also had my co workers from the county of San Diego that was super supportive. And another big supporter were my INC family from the locale of South San Diego.
Emirick: you had a lot of support.
Bernie: you had a lot of support and that I that’s.. and that really means a lot. How has your relationship with God changed through this experience?
Luida: Let’s See, definitely when I was going through the chemo treatments and all that, it definitely made my relationship with God stronger. Because um, despite the chemo treatments, God was so good that he gave me the strength to still go to work. He still allowed me to perform in the choir. So that I am super thankful to God that despite the treatments,
Bernie: You were still doing your thing.
Luida: I was still you’re still business as usual. Yeah.
Emirick: Through chemotherapy and everything?
Luida: Right? It’s like, and then I guess I went to work and went to church. Usually I had a black scarf on because I lost my hair. But that didn’t bother me. It’s like, I don’t care.
Emirick: I just really admire your positivity.
Emirick: I actually don’t know, like, what is chemotherapy like? If you don’t mind, kind of painting that picture for me and and our guests.
Luida: Let’s say we chemotherapy. I’d be fine. Like I would do it on Friday. But then I would be super hyper and talkative, per my husband. Saturday, Monday. And then on Monday, and Tuesday will be my down day. It’s like I can’t go to work. I can’t do anything. So and then I guess the hardest part about the chemotherapy was like when you eat food. It tastes like metal like you’re eating pennies.
Emirick: Oh, yeah.
Luida: So it was hard to find something that your mouth and your taste buds could accept. So that was the hardest thing and then that’s the one where one day I was like super hungry, but I couldn’t eat anything and that’s when I cried myself to sleep.
Bernie: I can only I yeah. You’re just like that piece of chicken that looks delicious. It tastes like a bag of pennies.
Emirick: No, you take away my sense of taste and I don’t know how I’m gonna continue. Yeah. So Okay, that’s a lot to go through. Um, what would, what some advice you’d have for someone who’s going through that, like, how did you find your strength?
Luida: Let’s see pretty much um, like having God as your backbone was a big, big help.
Luida: Having the support of family and friends having huge circle of support was , it helped me through the chemo treatments.
Emirick: Now I heard that after your experience, you started supporting other family and friends who were diagnosed with breast cancer. Why is that important for you to help them?
Luida: Let’s see, when it comes to my experience with breast cancer, I definitely wanted to be open to anyone who was experiencing the same thing or someone who knew someone that was going through breast cancer, because I wanted to, like ease their anxiety, kind of give them an idea of what they’re gonna go through, or some of the good and bad things that they’ll experience during the chemo treatments.
Emirick: How did you begin doing that? Did you just identify– how did you learn of people also diagnosed with breast cancer?
Luida: Actually, after I went through my own chemo treatments, it was strange because I had a co worker, I had a cousin and I had three church friends that also had breast cancer. And then I was open to answering other questions. Yeah.
Bernie: You know, God has His has His way. You know, it’s like He, you went through this, this journey that was painful. But I always I always think like, when things happen when I experience things that aren’t always the best experience, I always like, there’s a reason. There’s a reason why I’m going through this, whatever it is, I’ll try my best to be present when I realize what that reason is. And I feel like because of your positive, positive attitude and the strength that you have shown, here’s the reason. And because you have had some close friends and family go through a similar experience, you were there and you helped create a village for them.
Emirick: Right? It’s like uh, I feel the same way like maybe you went through it because you were super strong. You had to go yes first. Yeah, you could turn around and be like Alright guys, we got this, you know. Interesting that I see. I see that too.
Bernie: Is that Yeah, so just to summarize what I’m learning is that number one, to all our listeners out there, right, get a mammogram– never too late. Right I’m actually actually penciling it in there’s like I’m like actually writing it down on my thing like big bold letters get a mammogram, schedule, tomorrow
Emirick: I will ignore the letter that came from Kaiser the other day says primary or secondary mammogram I was like no I don’t I got I got the first one already
Bernie: you’re fine. But get the mammogram. Okay, number two, find your support and your tribe which is the reason Luida wanted to help others right and and you like I said, you went through this journey and yet I felt like God was like, Okay, this is this part’s gonna be hard. But I promise you there’s a reason. And number three, pray and believe in God that’s what I’m learning from this conversation. And I have to say, again, I am just absolutely just amazed of the just the positivity, that you’re just sharing with us through this, this journey that you went through. So God is truly truly so great. So, Luida, I can’t thank you enough for sharing your story and joining Emirick and I and allowing us to go on the short journey with you with what you went through. So I appreciate that. We appreciate that
Luida: bye everyone. Thank you for having me on this podcast.
Emirick: Yes, thank you so much for sharing your story. We know that someone out there is listening who’s experiencing the same thing. And we just want to remind you that you are not alone. And God’s love never fails.
Bernie: So thank you, Luida, for joining us Emmerich as usual. Thank you always for being my awesome co host. So thank you for listening to this episode of faith and family. And if you enjoy listening to us talk, laugh, cry, build each other up. You can Download more on Google podcast I Heart Radio and Apple podcasts under Faith and Family. And, as always, please, please, please, please, please leave us a review or just say hi. Other than that, please take care and stay safe. We’ll see you next time.