When we read Leticia's nomination by her boyfriend Joe, we knew she had to be one of our winners. Leticia was diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer in February of this year. A scary diagnosis in itself but paired with a global, pandemic, lockdown and the fear of maybe not being able to get the lifesaving treatment you so desperately need - to say its been a tough year would be an understatement!
What we loved about Leticia's nomination was the pure strength she has shown throughout her treatments and we're so happy to say she is now in remission.
Here is a snippet of her nomination from her boyfriend Joe;
'Leticia, my girlfriend, was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in January of this year. She has just got on with her treatment despite the pandemic backdrop. She has made some drastic changes to her life, focusing on her diet, exercise, wellbeing etc. She is in remission at the moment but has been so strong throughout this, sometimes I can’t even believe how brave she is. I am so proud of her...'
We asked Leticia some questions to find out a little more about her life and her thoughts on the past year...
2020 has been a devastating year for everyone. My family is from Spain and due to the high incidence of Covid-19 and the restrictions; they have been unable to be near me when I most needed them. It has been heart-breaking for both sides and sadly, we won’t be able to reunite for Christmas this year.What have you learnt/discovered in 2020?
I learnt an invaluable lesson, the meaning of life. I know now what is important and what happiness is. I have been amazed to discover the kindness, compassion and gratitude of people that I don’t even know. I have learnt that life is too short for worrying about insignificant things and it is a gift to see the sun rise every day.What are three things you are going to take with you after this year?
- To not to leave things 'for later'.
- Keep working on my best version of myself.
- To enjoy everything as much as I can. Every second counts.
Four years ago, I found out that I have a mutation, BRCA2+ which means, I am at high risk of developing breast cancer. For that reason, I have breast screenings every year since.. In April 2019, I had to undertake a biopsy as there was something abnormal, but the result came back clear. In January 2020, my annual screening was due and unfortunately it showed something suspicious, a 5cm size tumour in one of my breasts. One month later, I was told I had Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. The cancer had spread to my axillary lymph nodes, liver and bones..
After 3 months of weekly chemotherapy I achieved total remission, the cancer disappeared leaving some residual tissue in the breast and axilla which was removed in September. Although the response has been amazing, I will have to live with cancer for the rest of my life, there is no cure at the moment.Your boyfriend told us how proud he is of you for just ‘getting on’ with your treatment. Can you tell us what this was like during the pandemic and do you have any advice for women going through the same thing?
Being diagnosed with cancer just before the pandemic has been especially frightening as the uncertainty increased day by day. I didn’t know whether my treatment was going to start or even if it was going to be cancelled at some point. I was terrified of going outside or even to my appointments.
The restrictions made the process a bit difficult at the beginning, as I had to go to chemotherapy on my own but then, I was grateful to have 7 hours of me-time and all the attention from the nurses. When I changed my mentality and saw things with a new light, chemotherapy days became my favourite day of the week.
My advice to other women going through cancer during coronavirus is to minimise the risk as much as you can and to try to go out every day for a walk to improve your mental health and wellbeing. Stop watching the unpleasant news on your tv and start watching the beautiful world that surrounds you.
I changed my nutrition completely, I gave it the importance it deserves; food is medicine. I want to believe that this sacrifice lead to the great response I got.
I started doing yoga, meditation and anything that relaxes me such as reading, colouring, looking after my plants… Doing things you like has a positive and strong effect on your body and mind.What advice would you give to women who have had a recent diagnosis?
- Don’t panic. I know, it's easier said than done and beginnings are always difficult because you don’t know what's going to happen.
- When you hear your diagnosis, you might be in shock for a few days, feeling lost and hopeless. Have a team of people that can help you out with appointments, calls, meals or anything you need.
- Once you feel better, seek for a second or even third opinion as this can change the entire picture. Counselling, nutrition, reading, complementary therapy and some light exercise is a big part of your treatment as well.
Is there anything you would like to add here about raising awareness of breast cancer in younger women?
Cancer is not a mid-age disease; it can happen at a young age whether you are healthy or not, whether you have family history or not. Explore your breast on a monthly basis; that was the mistake I made. If I knew how my breast felt like, I probably could have detected an abnormality much earlier, maybe before the cancer spread.
2020 has been a challenging year but try to see the good things about it. I thought I had lost my health, my job, my freedom but I realised, I have been given the opportunity to design a new life, a new job and enjoy the time I was outdoors much more than before.Are there any charities/ groups that you would like share as support for women going through the same thing?
I would like to mention Trekstock and Secondary Sisters who supports young adults with cancer and, Vlogger Christen Williams @brcachatter for raising breast awareness and sharing her preventative mastectomy with the world.
Letica has been sharing her journey on her website. You can find out more about Leticia and her wonderful Massage and Acupuncture therapy treatments here...
You can follow Leticia on Instagram here...
You can find out more about all of the winners in our Feel Wonderful campaign and shop our ethical activewear here...