Survivor Stories:
Sonia Pressman Fuentes

How did you first find out you had cancer?

It showed up in a routine mammogram.

How did you react when you heard the news?

Basically, I felt as if someone had thrown a pail of cold water into my face.

What course of treatment were you prescribed?

It was recommended that I have a mastectomy and six months of chemotherapy, which I did.  In addition to a small cancer, I also had cancer in situ and at that time, it was not known whether chemotherapy (or perhaps it was a lumpectomy followed by radiation, I don’t recall) would destroy the carcinoma in situ as well as the cancer. A year or so later, my surgeon told me they now knew chemotherapy (or radiation) would have destroyed the carcinoma in situ.

What most surprised you about your treatment?

What an awful experience chemotherapy was.

What would your advice be to anyone who’s just received a cancer diagnosis?

Get a second opinion and find a support group.

How long have you been cancer free?

Twenty-two years.

What lessons did you learn from the experience?

To enjoy and be grateful for every day. I also acquired more empathy for people diagnosed with cancer than I had before.

If you could send one message to all the Good Enough Mothers out there – what would it be?

Breast cancer is not a death sentence.


Sonia Pressman Fuentes is a retired attorney and a feminist and community activist, author, and public speaker. She is a co-founder of NOW (National Organization for Women) and the first woman attorney in the Office of the General Counsel at the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission).  In the 1990’s, she was a member of the board of the American Cancer Society (ACS) in Washington, DC, and traveled to China and Israel to look into the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer for ACS. She is divorced, has one daughter, and lives in Sarasota, Florida. Visit her website!


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