Abish Romero, Mexico

Abish Romero, who grew up in Mexico, lost her mother to breast cancer. Then, a year and a half later while studying in the US at the young age of 24, the unthinkable happened—Abish was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer.  While navigating the difficulties of insurance, the fears of her disease and the questions of therapy, Abish found an ally: her inner strength.

“I have scars on my body and my spirit, and I know this battle will continue for the rest of my life, but I have become a stronger woman.”

Today, Abish works with the Mexican non-profit Tomatelo a Pecho to help improve the health systems of developing countries. She has shared her personal story with breast cancer as an example of the benefits of the Mexican Health System’s Universal Health Protection.  She believes that economic status should not be an impediment to obtaining access to treatment and hopes to help other countries achieve health equality.

I have scars on my body and my spirit, and I know this battle will continue for the rest of my life, but I have become a stronger woman.

- Abish Romero

In her own words

My name is Abish Romero and I am 25 years old.  I have always considered myself lucky to be a member of a close-knit family and would say that I had the perfect childhood.  Unfortunately, my life, and that of my family, drastically changed when my beloved mother suffered the attacks of that terrible and painful disease – breast cancer. Because of cancer I lost the person who took care of me and loved me more than anyone on earth.

A year and a half after my big loss, while in a cultural exchange program in Boston and still recovering from such great suffering, I found a lump in one of my breasts.  My difficult journey began with a biopsy that showed that the tumor was malignant. The nightmare returned.  I had been diagnosed with breast cancer, stage II.  Why, at only 24 years old with a whole life in front of me, professional and personal goals, was one of my worst fears coming true?  Why me?  Why again?

Immediately I was told to return home because my treatment would be expensive and my insurance wouldn’t cover it.  I felt like all of my doors were unfairly closing and began to think my professional goals and objectives were lost.  However, after all the anguish I had lived through I had a bit of good news.  Thanks to Dr. Felicia Knaul [president of Tomatelo a Pecho], I was introduced to Seguro Popular, a social health protection system in Mexico that would cover my treatment.  So, I returned to Mexico, very sad but hopeful that I would receive treatment.

In Mexico, I received timely and appropriate care.  The journey was long and included doctor’s appointments, blood tests, ultrasounds and chemotherapies (all of which was covered by my new insurance).  This treatment finally led me to my surgery.  I felt calm because I knew the difficult months of treatment were ending.  When I opened my eyes after surgery I couldn’t hold back the tears.  But this time it wasn’t pain or sadness.  Instead they were tears of gratitude for all the wonderful people I got to meet in this journey, for the unconditional love and support of my family.  I have scars on my body and my spirit, and I know this battle will continue for the rest of my life, but I have become a stronger woman.

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