Cancer Center - Martha's Story

Martha Diaz: Finding Her Strength to Defeat Breast Cancer

I call them the bumps in my road…

When I was 40 I had a heart attack.

Then, 11 years later, on New Year’s Eve, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

I call them the bumps in my road because although they may have slowed me, I was not going to let them knock me down! I could hardly process it when I heard those words and my initial reaction to my cancer diagnosis was a mix of numbness, fear and regret at having to give my children this terrible news.

Those feelings quickly gave way to determination. I was scared, but I needed to be strong for my family. I went into work mode and I was ready to fight.

Thanks to a very strong support system, that includes the team at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, I have been cancer-free for one year!

I consider my medical team a very compassionate and encouraging part of my recovery. Through mammograms, ultrasounds and a biopsy, the nurse navigator and the radiologists were simply the best. Any time I’d call or have a question, they were there. They would hold my hand. They made me feel like my case was the most important one at that moment. I was in charge of my cancer and I was able to take control thanks to them.

As an employee at The Beth for 19 years, I routinely get an annual mammogram. In 2015, I had my mammogram at the newly opened Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey Breast Health Center at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center.

This was my first 3-D mammogram and it is what saved me. The doctors said my tumor was ‘hidden’ and likely would not have shown up on a regular mammogram. If it had not been detected when it was, the cancer would have had a full year to grow.

Because my cancer was caught early, I was able to have a lumpectomy: removal of the cancer rather than the entire breast. I received radiation treatments – five days a week for four weeks – to help eliminate any remaining cancer cells.

Cancer is such an ugly disease, but when all is said and done, I feel very blessed. I’m going to do what I have to do to keep going. I’m not done here yet!

Martha M. Diaz, Old Bridge

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