Published in the Oct. 18 – 31, 2017 issue of Gilroy Life

Photo by Dawn Bussey
From left, Chef Carlos Pineda, Mayor Roland Velasco, SLRH CEO John Hennelly, Councilman Dan Harney, Breast Care Center clerk Lindsey Galvan and Chamber board member Lisa Faria help cut the ribbon at the new Breast Care Center at St. Louise Regional Hospital in Gilroy.

October is a month of beginnings and endings. At summer’s end, the local harvest begins. Shades of green fade away as hues of gold and brown renovate our landscapes. Long days give way to earlier nights. The warm breeze begins its cool descent. Fall is here. The signs of the season are upon us. I see pumpkins everywhere.

With so much to be joyful about the season, I still approach every October with mixed emotions. Among the many things October brings with it is breast cancer awareness. I am grateful for October. I am mad at October. I am sad in October. Above all else, I am hopeful in October.

I am grateful that because October has been dubbed “Breast Cancer Awareness Month” women can find information and resources to learn about early detection, prevention, and cures. I am grateful for the many friends and family who have faced cancer and beat it. I am grateful because my journey ended in the best possible way — I survived.

I am mad because I am not someone who hates — yet I hate cancer with a passion. When I think of the lives affected, I get mad. Knowing the struggles of those who have fought to survive — the tears, the scars, the pain, I get mad. When I consider that chemotherapy and radiation are poison — yet the most widely accepted therapies, causing devastating short and long-term side effects and irreparable damage, I get mad.

I am sad when I think of the women who have lost their fight. I am sad when I consider the people who loved those women. I am sad when I realize we still have not found a cure.

Now, I am not a sad person by nature. I will never be described as a melancholy type by anyone who knows me. However, when October rolls around I find myself feeling sad a little more than usual.

I am hopeful in October when I think of the progress — though slow, that has been made in the fight against cancer. I am hopeful when I see the community of survivors who come together to support and encourage one another. I am hopeful that with every new day, the chance of a cure is closer to reality. I am hopeful because sometimes it can seem like hope is all we have, and in those times hope is all we need.

It is with this mixed bag of emotions I carry around in October, and especially with hope, that I want to encourage you to get an annual mammogram. Learn to do self-exams, or ask your significant other to help. If something feels different, see your doctor right away. Don’t assume everything is fine or that it will work out. Your diligence can be the difference. In this month of beginnings and endings, I hope you begin or continue to be proactive with your health, and that we can one day put an end to breast cancer.

Debbi Sanchez

Debbi Sanchez

Debbi Sanchez is an event coordinator at Fortino Winery, a 14-year cancer survivor, and advocate. She serves on the board of Saint Louise Regional Hospital. She can be reached at
Debbi Sanchez

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