Nicole Vazquez of Lewisville was selected as one of 5 Survivor Ambassadors for General Mills’ national breast cancer awareness campaign, Pink Together. In the press release for the campaign, Nicole was recognized as one of the national ambassadors for the Pink Together campaign for her personal story of courage and survival in the face of breast cancer. Nicole joins Ebony Steele (Atlanta, Georgia), Eli Arroyo-Allen (Whispering Pines, North Carolina), Ginger Johnson (Layton, Utah), and Libby Pomroy (Minneapolis, Minnesota) in receiving the honor.
I recently spoke to Nicole about her experience as a breast cancer survivor. At 34, she was young when she was diagnosed. Today, she is a 4 year survivor, a strikingly energetic and positive woman, showing great internal strength in dealing with the trauma of breast cancer.
Nicole indicated her experience with the diagnosis was a unique one. After finding a lump in a self-exam, she scheduled an appointment with her family doctor who recommended a mammogram as quickly as possible, As an irregularity was noted in the mammogram further tests were initiated the same day including an ultrasound and a biopsy. A few days later she received word of the diagnosis, she had stage two, triple negative breast cancer.
There are several types of breast cancer, that are characterized by the presence or absence of specific proteins in the cancer cells. Triple negative breast cancer is characterized by a lack of all three proteins, and this makes the disease both aggressive and hard to treat. Nicole was confronted by this truly frightening diagnosis. The speed of diagnosis and treatment though are credited with saving her life, in the span of thirty days she found herself getting the surgical and chemotherapy support that she needed.
Nicole stated that while she did not have the extreme sickness that some patients experience, she did lose her hair, and surprisingly her fingernails. This made actions that we all take for granted like buttoning a blouse or picking up loose change difficult.
Nichole has involved herself in educating others about the disease and the treatment. She also is an advocate for routine self-examinations, and for mammograms and the other medical tests which helped her get the treatment she needed to become the four year survivor that she is today.
When asked what advice she would give other young women it was two-fold, “Don’t be alone, and don’t be afraid.” She credited a group of women she referred to as Survivor Sisters with helping with support. They meet for lunch periodically and provide nurturing and support including what she referred to as “Show and Tell” where the group members share what to expect as they move forward with treatment and recovery.
Nicoles groups is planning a fashion show at the DIllard’s store in Fairview (near Allen) this Saturday, October 23rd at 2:00pm. Approximately 40 Survivor Models of all ages will model fashions and work to raise breast cancer awareness here in north Texas.