by Juanita Galarza-Cerreto
Designer from Maryland
I’m originally from New Jersey, but I currently reside in Maryland with my husband and three sons. I joined Premier in May of 2013, and my initial “why” for joining was just to have some girl time. We were new to Maryland and Premier was my way to network and meet women since we had moved away from our family and friends. Living in a house with three young boys and a husband, girl time was definitely a necessity!
I was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer in June of 2009 at the age of 27. That year was such a busy time for my family and I. I had just given birth to our second son in February. My fiancé and I were caring for a newborn, relocating with our jobs, selling our separate condos, purchasing a new home, and planning our wedding and honeymoon for September! Being diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer really took us for a loop with everything we had going on.
I was in huge denial after being diagnosed because of my age and breast cancer was not in my family history at all. The first thing that came to my mind was my children and how this disease would affect their lives. The last thing I wanted was to leave this earth and not be able to help raise our 4-year-old son and our 4-month-old son. Also, knowing how hard it is to be a single parent (prior to meeting my fiancé), I could not bear to leave that burden on my soon-to-be husband.
Most of my strength comes from God because without Him I would not be here. I always had faith in Him, but my faith grew tremendously during this journey. I was always a fighter and a constant go-getter, but I truly believe God had plans for me. This disease was what I had to go through to become stronger, not only for myself, but also for those who surrounded me. My family and close friends played an enormous part by being my continuous support system throughout this entire process. They have helped me overcome this debilitating disease.
After numerous treatments, radiation, and surgeries, the doctors stated that because of the anti-cancerous medication that I had to take, my body might not bear any more children. My husband and I were satisfied, but God had other plans. In the fall of 2011, we found out we were expecting again, and in May of 2012, our third son, Jeremiah, was born.
I received valuable advice from many. As I went through this journey, many doctors were amazed on my progress and my spirits throughout this entire process, especially considering the stage the cancer was already in when I was diagnosed. They mentioned that I had a gift of inspiration, and I should share my story to spread hope to many. It didn’t really hit me until I joined Premier and heard the verse Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord…plans to give you a future and a hope.” That was when my “why” for Premier changed.
For all the women and men that may be going through this type of journey, I just want to say, never give up. God has a purpose and a plan for all of us. Always remember the Lord is by your side at all times. “I am your Creator. You were in my care even before you were even born,” Isaiah 44:2.
I am currently doing very well and this December 2015 will mark 6 years of being cancer free!