In spite of technological and medical advances, the fight rages on. We still do not have a miracle cure for cancer and that is why prevention and being vigilant and knowing your own body might be the most important things anyone can do to try to avoid a devastating diagnosis. If caught early, cancer, like any other disease, can be stopped from going into overdrive and causing irreparable damage.
Meet Rita Vargas, 2017 Honorary Survivor Chair for the 28th Annual Race for the Cure. Mrs. Vargas shared her story in hopes that maybe somewhere some other woman reads it and makes a different decision from the one she made. Rita Vargas is from Davenport, her grandparents came to United States from Mexico. Mrs. Vargas has extensive family in the Quad Cities and for last 14 years she served as Scott County Recorder. Since her family does not have a history of breast cancer, it was not something she thought about a lot.
“I found my lump while scooping a peanut out of my shirt,” Mrs. Vargas shared. “I did not call my doctor for several months and now have to live with the thought that I might not have lost my breast had I come in sooner,” she lamented.
Saving someone from the same mistake, she made, was the reason why she shared her story. Mrs. Vargas did not give too much importance to that lump and that was a huge mistake. Now she is well aware that she has a mutated BRAC gene (blood test that uses DNA analysis to identify mutations in breast cancer susceptibility genes BRAC 1 and BRAC 2). In spite of the scary diagnosis, Mrs. Vargas assures she was not distressed.
“I honestly was not devastated by the cancer diagnosis because I was relieved that it was me not one of my mothers, sisters, girlfriends or co-workers,” Mrs. Vargas said.
“I knew I could manage whatever was in store because I have wonderful support system and great medical insurance,” she counted her blessings. “I have been blessed with many gifts and for many this diagnosis would be devastating, but I trusted in my faith and my doctors to get me through.”
This year Rita Vargas was named the 2017 Honorary Survivor Chair for Race for the Cure. She explained that one of her responsibilities is to “educate women of the importance of knowing your own body and to see a doctor if you feel something.” She also advises for women to have a mammogram every year.
Living through this difficult experience is not easy, but Mrs. Vargas still thinks of others before herself.
“I am honored to be the 2017 Chair Survivor, but do not feel worthy of this honor because I did not suffer or become gravely ill from chemo, radiation and hormone therapy,” she humbly explains. “I received a new look on life and have learned to ‘not sweat the little things.”
Said like a survivor she is. Rita Vargas found out she had breast cancer, and even though she regrets not acting on her suspicions earlier, she still is grateful to be alive and able to share her story with other women. Yes, the technological and medical advances are moving fast, but a cure for a disease like cancer is not easy to find. As, Mrs. Vargas advises be vigilant, know your body and don’t ever put off the call to your doctor. Prevention saves lives.
Making sense of the ever-changing world of breast cancer can be very overwhelming though. The Understanding Breast Cancer section of komen.org is your one-stop resource for the latest information on breast cancer risk factors, early detection and screening, diagnosis, treatment and support.
The 28th Annual Komen Quad Cities Race for the Cure will be Saturday June 10, 2017.
7:00 a.m. Expo Opens
7:15 a.m. Survivor Parade
8:00 a.m. 5K and 1.2 mile Race start
Since the inception of the Race in 1990, more than $6 million has been raised to provide education, breast health services, and groundbreaking research.