By Lourdes D. Heras
Content note: This story references the author’s experience with intimate partner violence (IPV) and sexual abuse. For support and resources, please visit the CDC’s IPV webpage or the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
Hello! My name is Lourdes D. Heras. I have been a member of the SBC community since October 2020, when I started attending the Thursday Night Thrivers program days after my double mastectomy. In June 2022 I began my collaboration as the new Director of Community Engagement and co-founder of “Después de un Diagnóstico,” SBC’s new addition of programs offered in Spanish, where we provide educational information and support for the Spanish-speaking community.
The Spanish team helps with a variety of tasks at SBC. Together with my colleague Brenda Coronado, I co-host a new podcast: “Después de un Diagnóstico,” a newsletter, and our Tuesday support group, which meets on the third Tuesday of the month. We also assist in art therapy every first Tuesday of the month and very soon we will launch our reading group. We collaborate in the planning of our programs, communicating with members, and also participate in events and conferences.
In October 2020, I was diagnosed with estrogen- and progesterone-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer. Through this diagnosis I had many, many difficulties.
As if cancer was not enough, I had to protect myself from the person who I thought would be my protector; after all, he was my husband. Sadly, after 18 months of marriage and a cancer diagnosis, he became my abuser.
Two days after my mastectomy he sexually abused me, unraveling a series of infections and emergency surgeries. He would also humiliate me with words like, “Look at you, they are taking all your woman parts away,” (since I needed a mastectomy and hysterectomy due to my type of cancer), “You will get it again in 10 years,” and the first words that came out of his mouth: “They are not big enough,” after the first filling of those excruciating expanders.
Never a word of encouragement. Never an, “I am here for you” or “We will beat this together.” I suffered a stroke two weeks after finishing radiation, and the hospital nurse advised me to file for a restraining order so that he would not approach me. He violated the initial stipulations of the order seven times. I was finally granted three years of protection for him to stay away from me, and recently finalized my divorce from him.
Now, I am very happy to be part of the SBC community, not only professionally but personally. I have a Master’s in Public Health, specializing in healthcare administration. My passions are everything related to diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and breast cancer. More recently I’ve become active in the prevention of intimate partner violence (mental, emotional and sexual) after a cancer diagnosis. This is especially important to me since I was personally affected after my breast cancer diagnosis.
Outside of my job with SBC, I am a mother of two beautiful children: Xoe (age 15) and Londen (age 12). I also manage a multidisciplinary department of endocrinology, diabetes and wellness, which I am very passionate about. My team of 60+ people offers various resources for patients in the prevention, treatment and maintenance of diabetes in the state of Arizona.
Throughout a cancer diagnosis, I want everyone in the Spanish-speaking community to know that they are definitely not alone. We offer great support through SBC’s resources.
I personally want you to know that it is good to look at the glass half full and not half empty. And as for the parts that God gave me and cancer took away, that doesn’t make me any less of a woman.
I look forward to seeing you and connecting through SBC’s various resources and programs in Spanish!
Thank you for sharing your story, Lourdes. SBC loves you!
SurvivingBreastCancer.org Resources & Support: