Para ti Mami..
For years my mom avoided going to the gynecologist out of embarrassment (typical response from an older Latina). “Que pena,” she would tell me. After all, my mom, who was born in Havana, Cuba, had been brought up in an ultra-conservative environment. Case in point, even after she and my dad married in a civil ceremony my abuela or aunt chaperoned them until their church wedding a few days later.
I remember as a child I couldn't wait to grow up so I could stay up past 9 pm, drive myself to the mall or the movies, and eat whatever I wanted. I never thought that as I grew up so would my parents, and as they aged that they might begin to fade as well.
Now, in my 40s, I have had to face the death of my mom from cancer, my father’s revelation that he has Parkinson’s, and the fact that some of my friends’ parents are also ill. It is because of this and them that we all must live healthier lives so that we can leave a healthy legacy for our children.
Recently, the father of a longtime family friend was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, which affects the brain and causes a person’s memory, thinking, and reasoning skills to deteriorate. Below is the story she shared on her blog about facing the fact that her father is fading fast.
When my friend’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, it had already progressed to stage 3. The year before, her husband had a died of liver cancer, and she later revealed to her family that her doctors had found a lump in her breast but since she was so overwhelmed with grief, she didn’t have time to deal with it.
After undergoing 16 rounds of chemotherapy for breast cancer, Lily Lorenzo-Luaccs was told she would need to have a hysterectomy. In her early 30s, this Latina had to grapple with the decision of risking her life in the future if she choose to have children.
In August 2004, my high school and college friend, Lilly Lorenzo-Luaces, a child psychologist who lives in Miami with her fiancee, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Almost 11 years later, she is cancer free. I sat down with her to discuss her story.