What I learned: 5 lessons from breast cancer survivor Amelia Tena

March 7, 2016 | by City of Hope

For many cancer survivors, being hit with the news that cancer has returned can be a devastating blow; a moment that tests the strength and courage of even the toughest of patients.
But for Amelia Tena, a Hispanic immigrant living in southern California, learning that her breast cancer had returned after a brief remission only fortified her resolve to fight, and eventually beat, the disease. Amelia's remarkable fight began at City of hope -- a comprehensive cancer center that could offer her the specialized care she knew she needed. 
“I am so grateful for the personalized care I received at City of Hope and for the many resources they offer,” said Amelia, who has come to know the wide range of services well: Now a nine-year cancer survivor, Amelia is also a City of Hope volunteer, providing much-needed counseling and mentorship to Spanish-speaking patients. 
Amelia, whose story inspired the latest Hispanic brand campaign, is a living testament to how City of Hope’s family of doctors and scientists work together to beat cancer and save lives through medical breakthroughs and individualized treatments. 
Below, she shares five lessons she learned during her cancer journey.   
1. Look for a second opinion
In beginning, you’ll be inundated with a lot of information. It’s crucial to get a second opinion from a credible source, like City of Hope. Find the best cancer center option for the type of cancer you have and don’t be afraid to look for a second, or even a third opinion.
2. Remember to treat your soul
The treatment and/or surgery process can be very intense. It can get in the way of something just as important – healing the soul. One of my favorite things to do is tai chi. It calms every part of me. I also love to go for walks. Whether you enjoy meditating, doing yoga, or taking long walks, doing simple things every day to heal your soul makes a difference, not only to your well-being, but also as part of your treatment.
3. Find or create a community
Surrounding yourself with people who can offer you help and support outside your family and friends is a great way to share resources and ideas. I started a Hispanic community group to help share ideas with others on how to take better care of themselves. It’s important to share the knowledge you have learned with others who might be facing what you went through when diagnosed with cancer, so they can learn from your experience and insights.
4. Communicate your feelings
This illness affects every aspect of your life: emotionally, mentally and financially, as well as affecting everyone in your family. It’s overwhelming to take all this in, which is why talking about it with someone who understands will help you through this difficult transition.
5. Ask for help in your language of preference
Make sure you seek medical advice in your language of preference. It’s important you receive your diagnosis and treatment options in that language from a medical professional, so that you and your family can easily understand your treatment options and make an informed decision, instead of second-guessing yourself.


Learn more about City of Hope's breast cancer program and research. If you are looking for a second opinion or consultation about your treatment, request an appointment online or contact us at 800-826-HOPE. Please visit Making Your First Appointment for more information.

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