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Could a Total Stranger Save Your Life?

June 13th, 2012 |

by mailet | Survivor: Breast Cancer    Connect

Can a total stranger unknowingly change the course of your cancer treatment, and perhaps improve your odds at a quick recovery? For me, this was true.

At the age of thirty three I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer (Invasive Ductal Carcinoma). This news, as you can imagine, was not something I expected. Who does, anyway?

And so my journey began...

Breaking the news to my family was by far the toughest thing I've ever had to do. But everyone was great and the outpouring of support was amazing. They gave me the strength to maintain a positive attitude and I was determined to do everything (natural) I could possibly do. I became vegetarian and included freshly made organic vegetable juices in my daily routine. I couldn't control cancer, but I could control every single thing I put into my body.

Things after the diagnosis moved too quickly.

I had some big decisions to make, ones that would affect the rest of my life. I wanted time to think, but it was hard to ignore the urgency I felt from my doctors. From the onset of the whole ordeal, I knew I didn't want to do chemo or radiation. I lost an aunt to ovarian cancer just two years prior and saw the toll it had taken on her and the pain she had gone through. There had to be something better.

The options my doctors had given me were as follows:

  • Remove the whole breast (mastectomy) and undergo radiation and chemotherapy. The mastectomy was highly recommended.
  • Try chemo first to shrink the tumor then have surgery, followed by radiation.
  • Do a lumpectomy, hope for clean markers and proceed with chemo and radiation.

Just because it was the standard protocol didn't mean it was right for me. Regardless, I was being pushed by my family and friends to do something, so I opted for the lumpectomy followed my chemo and radiation.

After the surgery I was still uneasy about starting chemo. I was convinced there was another way and began searching high and low for any information I could get my hands on. During a visit to an acupuncturist, whom I started seeing to help alleviate stress, I was introduced to a patient who had survived a very similar diagnosis. Her name was Rita (or as I sometimes refer to her, my angel) and the information she shared with me saved my life.

She told me about the treatments she went through apart from the conventional chemo. One of them was called IPT (insulin potentiation therapy). She recommended I research it and referred me to her doctor. Learning about this treatment gave me hope. After spending hours looking into it, I knew it was right for me and immediately made an appointment with the doctor.

With my family and friends on board I felt empowered and finally somewhat in control of this disease. Thankfully the treatment I chose allowed me to lead as much of a normal life as possible. I was able to go to work after each treatment. My hair thinned out but didn't fully fall out, which is tough to go through, no matter what anyone says, superficial or not. Not having to go through that also made things a bit easier. Six months into treatments I had a PET CT Scan with normal/negative results! I was cancer free!

Today, I celebrate everyday as the founder of I started the site because like many of you, I felt alone when I was diagnosed. Although I had wonderful support from family and friends, I didn't know anyone my age who had been or was going through the same thing. I wanted to talk to someone who understood what I was about to go through and who would guide me through some of the challenges ahead. By fate (or chance), meeting Rita saved my life and I feel extremely grateful for that every day.

I want to be that angel for anyone going through cancer. We shouldn't leave anything about cancer to chance, and that's why IHadCancer is here today. I hope you find someone who will make this unwanted trip easier for you to navigate.

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mailet's picture
Mailet Lopez is a breast cancer survivor and the founder of! Read her full story and learn more about the treatments she underwent by connecting with her.