The Student News Site of Pembroke Pines Charter High School


The Student News Site of Pembroke Pines Charter High School


The Student News Site of Pembroke Pines Charter High School


Sweet Treats by Julie

Life after breast cancer: the change of a new life

Evan Omana

As Earth continuously rotates around the Sun, everything on it is constantly changing and evolving in more ways than one. Just like a butterfly beginning as a small caterpillar navigating a life on Earth, humans constantly are trying to find their way around as well. The caterpillar then enters the next stage of its life where it goes into its chrysalis. Sheltering itself from the world and evolving in silence, it then surprises the rest of nature and its wandering eyes. With its beaming colors and a light, almost beautiful energy surrounding its every flutter, the butterfly has completed one of its biggest changes in its life.

The similarity with the humans and the butterfly includes that at one point in everyone’s life, there is one big change awaiting its arrival. For some it can be a big work opportunity, a baby, or an everlasting love. However, it can be the opposite for others. In other words, a sickness that attempts to take over the lives of women. As said by the National Breast Cancer Foundation, breast cancer is a disease that only 1 in 8 women will get diagnosed with. With this incredibly low statistic, it only makes it 10 times harder to believe once diagnosed. 

The first question that comes to mind after a diagnosis is “Why me?”, or “Where did this come from?” The most common answers come between genetics or just the unexplainable cause of getting older. However, with genetics it is only said to believe that 5-10% of breast cancer is genetic. For many patients who recently get diagnosed, they immediately go to do tests to find out whether this was caused due to genetic history and if it can be passed down to their own children. Shannon Torres, known at Charter as Ms. Torres, has her own story to share when it comes down to her truth and her journey through this hard event in her life. 

After being a survivor of almost 5 years, Ms. Torres sat down to bring awareness to her story and help others understand the true experience of what it is like to go through breast cancer in this modern age. It began with Torres laying on her couch, enjoying her time off after always giving her all to her work here at Charter as part of administration. All while watching a TV show as a distraction, something else came to catch her attention. Feeling around her chest, a certain lump aroused feelings of confusion and almost fear in a way. “I just went like that and touched around and I was like, well, what is it? That feels weird. And it never went away.” After these thoughts continued to flood her brain, she went to a doctor who couldn’t believe it and doubted she even had cancer due to her age of only being 37 at the time. However, after many biopsies and tests,  a holiday weekend that is supposed to be filled with rest and relaxation was instead replaced with sadness and fear; all with one call. Torres was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. 

The second step in this large and emotionally grueling process is to plan your treatment ahead of time. Usually, as stated by the Mayo Clinic, most doctors usually aim to identify the stage and later focus on what surgery is needed and if chemotherapy and radiation is necessary in the future. However, for mothers who had just gotten the unsettling news of their diagnosis, their first motive is how to break the news to their family. Specifically, how to tell them that their mother will be going through an emotionally and physically draining sickness. For a mother of West Broward student and graduate, Jackie Mauricio, she believed in the honesty and care in which she will have to tell her children the news she’d never believe she have to tell. 

 “I knew I had to do whatever it took in order to get the cancer out of my body because I had to be here for them. I imagined my son having children and them not meeting their grandmother and my daughter getting married and me not being there for her on that special day.” As Jackie began to navigate herself through this time, it came to her attention that it had to become her priority to also help her children through this process; through honesty. In Jackie’s eyes, there would be no need to sugar coat a process and emotions that will be felt on a daily basis like sadness and anxiety. 

“I didn’t want to scare them but I believe in being truthful and wanted to have the ability to answer any questions they had for me without scaring them. It was obvious I was sad, scared and crying a lot so there was no point in hiding it from them.”  As for many mothers around the world, it is almost equally essential to lean on steady, supportive shoulders but also to remain honest with yourself and others around you. When asked about Jackie’s support system at the time, Mauricio commented on the evolution of her friendships and in some ways, the opening of true friendships to come in. According to City of Hope, a cancer treatment center located in California, one of the most effective and needed steps is to ‘rally your support squad’ especially throughout your treatment. 

For Mauricio, it was exactly that which was needed. But, with some friends, it wasn’t what she expected. “In my particular case, I learned who my real friends are. There were some friends that I thought would’ve been there for me but they weren’t. Others showed up in ways I never thought. I also gained some friends that have become more than family.” With such a heavy diagnosis and process, it creates an opening for women around the world to experience the true support from the women around them as well. As for Jackie, it allowed her to create a more special and real bond with her new and much more evolved support squad. 

As information is being traveled from story to story, Ms. Torres highlights the true and raw aspects of  being cancer free. After ringing the long awaited and anticipated bell that indicates the patient being now cancer free also allows for a new question to arise. That one being, “What if it comes back?” Cleveland Clinic responds with the statistic of 20-50% of survivors that fear consumes their lives and in some ways, profoundly affects their lives. When talking about her life after becoming cancer free, Ms Torres is brought back to a specific time in her life. The time where she allowed thoughts to consume her mind. After the fear of recurrence almost taking over completely, it was time for Torres’s mindset to change. “Something that I’ve taken with me throughout my life is don’t borrow trouble. Don’t look for trouble. Don’t try to create situations that aren’t there.” It is with this specific quote that has allowed herself to create a life of freedom and possibilities for herself and her family. 

As for my mother, Rosanna Perez, it is with pride and joy that she can now join this group of resilient women by calling herself a cancer survivor. After only getting her diagnosis of stage 1 breast cancer in early November, it broadened her perspective of helping the community around her that includes women from all backgrounds. Rosanna’s eyes were opened in terms of her idea of womanhood which surrounds her all throughout Broward County and the strength in which they all have. However, her main goal now is her ability to spread awareness and use her voice in the community. 

“I don’t have a specific plan yet, but I know I will speak more about how important it is to get those checkups specifically at work where there are so many young women. I also want to get in touch with organizations that do have a plan and help use their resources for a cause.” 

Survivors in Broward County are in luck when it comes down to the support of an organization with Memorial Hospital’s very own Pink Angels Foundation. The Pink Angels are known for the support and love shown through generous donations that go towards emergency needs for patients, financial assistance, image recovery support and more.  It is with their loving and strong willed work that patients and survivors can make it through such a tough time in their lives.

However, what makes this foundation so special is that their very own board is made up of breast cancer survivors themselves. Incoming chairwoman, Lucy Miccio, is a breast cancer survivor herself whose goal is to empower women and utilize her voice for a change in the community. Lucy herself joined the Pink Angels seeking support and not only found that, but a group of women that understand and have gone through the same struggles and hard times she has. “…We all understand each other.” 

Lucy Miccio goes on to describe the wonderful events that led to a major contribution in the community. Their Touch of Pink party and their annual tennis event allowed the pink angels to raise a significant amount of money. With this money and more raised from past fundraisers, it is with joy that the pink angels donated $500,000 to the Memorial Hospital Cancer Institute. Miccio elaborates on the achievement with, “We thought it would be wonderful to be a part of something like that. It’s our legacy giving $100,000 a year for 5 years. We are just dedicated to the patients who come through that facility.” 

As the stories have reached full circle, it is with curiosity that the metaphor involving butterflies comes back into picture. When a butterfly breaks out of its cocoon, it has shed all of its past skin and layers that made it its old self. The butterfly can now fly on to do things in its life it wasn’t capable of doing before. It is in comparison that after a process and time that a breast cancer survivor can be seen the same way. After their procedures, treatments, and exams, breast cancer survivors can fly on to shine their new colors and their skin. They are now able to enter a new stage of gratitude, peace and a new life full of love and change.

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About the Contributors
Julianna Perez, Clubs Editor
Hi! My name is Julianna Perez and I'm currently the Clubs Editor for the CHAT Newspaper. I'm a sophomore and this is my second year in the newspaper. I love to write and pursuing journalism is my dream, so I can't wait to continue writing again this year! Feel free to contact me at [email protected] if you have feedback or questions :)
Evan Omana, Graphics Editor
Hello, my name is Evan Omana! I'm currently a sophomore and this is my first year in the CHAT. This year I'll be the Graphics Editor. I like making art from photoshop, doing Krav Maga martial arts and playing guitar. I'm hoping to have the best year possible! If you ever need anything from me contact [email protected] or just say hi when you see me around!

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    Susan MolinaFeb 9, 2024 at 10:43 AM

    Wow.. you have achieved a perspective of breast cancer, its detection, its survival, and support system that is truly inspiring. We’ll done. Thank you for sharing. ❤️