In 2012, Throggs Neck resident Teresa Irizarry had her first mammogram and was diagnosed with breast cancer.
While she was a bit sad and worried at first, she persevered with the support of her family, friends and doctors. Irizarry, 62, underwent chemotherapy from December 2012 until April 2013 and had a mastectomy. Since then, she has been cancer free.
“The doctors laid out everything nice and clear to me,” she recalled.
According to Irizarry, Dr. Elizabeth Lee-Rey, breast cancer specialist Dr. Nella Shapiro and oncologist Dr. Fabio Volterra have been there for her the past eight years.
Irizarry, a retired telecommunications manager for the hotel trade association, has four children, Louis, Michelle, Jessenia and Jose and several grandchildren.
Those five months were the toughest of her life. She lost all her hair, but didn’t complain about the pain she experienced.
In fact, she celebrated all the holidays with her kids and grandkids. Irizarry noted she began chemo on Dec. 27, 2012 so she could be there for Christmas.
“My grandkids treated me like nothing was going on,” she said.
Today, the mom and grandma has a new lease on life. While she still gets treatment every three weeks, she feels great.
“My recovery was very smooth because I had the help of my family,” she shared.
Irizarry told the Bronx Times she wished more women would be allowed to get mammograms done before age 40. Unless someone has a family history, the CDC does not recommend the test for younger women.
She stressed that even with COVID-19, any woman who is eligible to be tested for breast cancer should do so.
“Every woman needs to go out and get their mammogram done,” she said. “It could save their life. I’ve seen a lot of girls who have passed away because mammograms are done after the age of 40.”
Irizarry attends breast cancer awareness events and does her best to educate people about the disease. She enjoys meeting other survivors like herself and sharing stories. Through everything, she has always kept a positive attitude.
“I just want to tell every woman who has breast cancer to keep their heads up and have hope and faith,” she said.