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Survivor Stories 2015: Mary Helen Ybanez


Survivor Stories 2015:
Mary Helen Ybanez


1. How did you first find out you had cancer?

During a routine mammogram. After additional testing, I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer on Monday, February 7, 2011, four days before my 50th b-day.

2.How did you react when you heard the news?

I have to admit the news was not a surprise to me, as I already knew in my heart, but I was still in shock, feeling overwhelmed followed by many tears. The one personI thought of was my daughter, Jessica. She is my world and rock and I did not want to worry her, as she was pregnant with my first grandchild. I shared the news with my family and close friends right away and they too were in shock and tears were shared. I never would have thought that I would be going through this because I thought I was invisible . . . one thing I did know was that God had a plan for me.

3. What course of treatment were you prescribed?

Six rounds of chemo and 5 weeks of daily radiation.

4. What most surprised you about your treatment?

The loss of my hair made me very sad. May 12 was my first chemo and about two weeks later my daughter went in to labor. I drove to San Antonio by myself, and I was speeding to get there on time, and made it to see my daughter Jessica give birth to Mikaelah on May 25. Then, two days later, I starting losing my hair and I cried and cried. I left to go back home to Houston on Memorial Day and called a friend of mine to go with
me to shave my head the next day after work.

5. What would you advice be to anyone who’s just received a cancer diagnosis?

Stay positive, be happy and keep the faith. And most of all, think of kodak moments (aka happy thoughts).

6. How long have you been cancer free?

I will be in remission four years this November.

7. What lessons did you learn from the experience?

I’m not really sure if I will call them lessons from the experience of having breast cancer, so I will call it a journey. A journey that took me through something I never imagined I would go through. It brought me closer to my family and friends as they pulled together to walk with me in my journey by being there for me, by taking me to my appointments, bringing me food, taking me shopping for wigs and scarves, etc.

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

God has a plan for everyone, and through challenges He will always hold you in the palm of His hand. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11.

Mary Helen is an Executive Administrative Assistant at JPMorgan Chase Bank and has been with the Bank for nineteen years. She is a member
of the S.F. Austin High School Alumni Association Inc and Treasury Officer. She also serves on the S.F. Austin HS Golf Committee that raises scholarship funds for high school seniors. She has served as a board member of the Faith Formation for Religious Education at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church and of the JPMC Houston Sage InitiativeGroup. Mary Helen has one daughter, Jessica and two granddaughters, Mikaelah and Scarlett.

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