Erica Duran

This foundation has shown me nothing but love and is a great place to go to when thriving is on your mind.

One of my favorite memories as a child was traveling from New York to the Dominican Republic, which I did every summer, to stay with my Aunt Christina. Aunt Christina took great care of me; and thanks to her, I have many joyful childhood memories. Unfortunately, she passed away due to ovarian cancer. Her final wish was to see me one more time. So at age 6 my mother sent me to her. A few days after my arrival, my aunt passed away. That was the hardest day of my life. I hated cancer.  I feared cancer. Cancer meant death to me. It took away a very important person in my life. After that, I did my best to stay healthy to try to prevent any disease.  I also checked my body regularly to see if anything seemed odd.

On January 2016, I felt a lump on my breast. I quickly made an appointment to get it checked, and an ultrasound was performed. According to the doctor it was just a cyst. A month later the cyst felt larger so I went to get it checked again, and the doctor told me not to worry. I was not pleased with this lump growing in my breast, so I went for a second opinion. It was now the end of May. When I arrived a doctor felt the lump and quickly ordered an ultrasound, then a biopsy on the lump and on a lymph node under my arm. Finally, a mammogram was performed. All these test were unexpected since I thought the appointment was only for a consultation.

On June 2, 2016, while my students were in music class, my phone rang. It was the doctor with the results. He told me that I had breast cancer and that it had spread to my lymph node. He gave me an oncologist appointment. I said, “Thank you,” hung up, and sat with a blank stare until it was time to pick up my students from music.

The days after that phone call were filled with tears, wonders, anxiety, and worries.  Finally, the day to meet my oncologist arrived. She told me that I had Triple Negative Breast Cancer, one of the most aggressive types of breast cancer. I remember telling the oncologist, “Aggressive okay, this cancer must not know that I am more aggressive than it.” I was done fearing cancer. The oncologist told me the treatment plan and I said “bring it.”

During treatment I was on an alkaline diet, I tried my best to be active. I maintained a positive attitude and had the best support system. My family took turns to help my husband take care of me. My loved ones were my troops, and I was the leader in this battle. I fought the disease, not wanting to pass away like my aunt. I could not leave my young daughters like my aunt left me due to this disease. Cancer did not have a chance. This 34-year-old is not done living. I faced my 16 rounds of chemotherapy, double mastectomy, and 30 rounds of radiation with triumph. I’m happy to say I am cancer free.

To fight you need to be strong. I got my strength from my great support team. It’s hard to face cancer alone. My supporters were family, friends, and kind strangers. Before cancer, I was a very private person. I did not have any social media. All that changed when I felt I needed to find other survivors. I created an Instagram page. To my surprise, my journey has helped and is helping many fighters. They have helped me as well. I encourage fighters to share their stories. Finally, I advise them to not let this disease stop them from accomplishing goals, whether it is getting up from bed to make a meal or completing a marathon.

One of my goals during treatment was to complete a 5K marathon. The feeling I got after completion was very beneficial during the fighting journey. It gave me one more motivation to beat cancer. If I could finish a marathon on chemo imagine what I could do when I recover. I plan to thrive in anything I attempt to do. As part of my remission workouts I run with my oldest daughter. I am training her in hopes she makes it on her school track team. I also love associating myself with positive people that want to thrive. For this reason I am very excited to be part of the BSNCF.  This foundation has shown me nothing but love and is a great place to go to when thriving is on your mind.

– Erica Duran, New Jersey

Sadly, Erica lost her battle with cancer on March 12, 2018.   Her voice will always live on in BSNCF as she graces the cover of our website.  Her beautiful photos were taken by Noa Green during her treatment.

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