Bronx woman shares her breast cancer journey for ‘Westchester Goes Pink’ event

Sandy Motie shares her breast cancer story at White Plains Hospital on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022.
Sandy Motie shares her breast cancer story at White Plains Hospital on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022.
Photo courtesy Sandy Motie

Sandy Motie was getting dressed over Memorial Day Weekend when she noticed something alarming.

A born-and-raised Bronxite currently residing in Parkchester, she’s the office supervisor for the Thoracic Surgery Department at White Plains Hospital and has always been conscientious of her health. And that Saturday back in May was no different.

She found a mass in her left breast. 

“I said to myself ‘this is not a good sign, something is going on,’” Motie said. “And when I went to work on Tuesday I took charge.” 

She contacted doctors to schedule a mammogram, an ultrasound and a biopsy soon after she detected a problem, since she had never been tested for cancer — she’s only 34 years old. 

Sandy Motie, pictured with her 7-year-old son Jayce Gomez, was diagnosed with breast cancer in June.
Sandy Motie, pictured with her 7-year-old son Jayce Gomez, was diagnosed with breast cancer in June. Photo courtesy Sandy Motie

Nonetheless, her diagnosis came quickly — it was breast cancer. She started treatment just 10 days after her doctor gave her the news. 

“That entire week was filled with appointments … I was meeting everyone,” Motie said. “Thursday was my last day (at work) and that following Monday I started chemo.” 

It’s still hard for Motie to conceptualize the fact that she’s actually a cancer patient, since it’s only been four months since her life first started to change. She said adapting to a life free of work but filled with doctor appointments, as well as physical changes in her body — like hair loss, a change in complexion and weight fluctuation — has been tough. 

“Sometimes I still can’t mentally process that I’m actually going through this, especially when I’m doing my normal, routine things,” she said.

On good weeks Motie says it’s like she doesn’t even remember that she’s a cancer patient. She wakes up, takes her boys — ages 12 and 7 — to school, runs errands and spends time with her family on the weekends.  

But some weeks are harder.

Sometimes she feels depressed and anxious, and some days she can’t eat. Sometimes she feels like she can’t even function. 

“When my bad days hit I’m like ‘I am really going through this. Why me?’” Motie said. “Sometimes you are a little down and sad about the entire situation.” 

It takes a lot for someone to be able to fully understand a diagnosis of this degree and be able to cope with it, she said. But even on days when she feels like she can’t get out of bed, she looks internally.

“I said ‘This is not me, I’m stronger than this,’” Motie said. “Let me get up and have something to drink, let me get up and eat something, I have kids that need me. I’m not weak. I’m very strong.” 

Her work family, as well as her family of doctors, have been a great support system throughout her cancer journey so far, she said. Especially her two young boys, who she said have had to grow over the past few months. 

Because she works in a hospital, Motie said her kids know how disease, addiction and injury can uproot a person’s life. 

“I’ve always been bringing home those stories … (for them) to see how unfortunate life is at times, (how) innocent people go through stuff like cancer, and how unfair cancer is,” she said. 

The day of her diagnosis, Motie said she explained to her sons the changes that were to come. She said they were scared, but she assured them she was in good hands.

Sandy Motie, pictured with her 12-year-old son Devan Gomez, is scheduled to start her recovery process next March. Photo courtesy Sandy Motie
Sandy Motie, pictured with her 12-year-old son Devan Gomez, is scheduled to end her treatment next March. Photo courtesy Sandy Motie

“They understood,” she said. “This experience has transformed them into little men. … Right now the kids do their laundry, they help prepare me a light breakfast on days that are not good after chemo … It makes them stronger as well, and it prepares them for the responsibility for when they one day become adults.” 

Instead of dwelling on her diagnosis, or what she could have done differently, Motie said she tries to rationalize the fact that she is simply one of the women who gets breast cancer. She reiterated that it’s important for people to perform self-examinations and take swift medical action upon any detection of abnormality. 

“The word cancer really does terrify people, and I don’t want women to think that you get a cancer diagnosis (and) you’re dying,” she said.

Motie shared her story at the “Westchester Goes Pink” event at White Plains Hospital on Oct. 4, as part of the hospital’s Breast Cancer Awareness programming in conjunction with the American Cancer Society. 

She is scheduled for surgery this fall, and then radiation. Motie said the tough parts of her treatment regimen are scheduled to wrap next March, and she’s looking forward to her life returning to normal. 

“It just happened to be me, and it’s something that I’m growing from,” Motie said. “This is just a phase, it’s going to be a bad memory behind me.”

Reach Camille Botello at [email protected]. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes

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