Inspiring Stories: I faced cancer at 29, breast cancer survivor says

December 6, 2014 | by City of Hope

On Jan. 1, 2015, six City of Hope patients who have journeyed through cancer will welcome the new year with their loved ones atop City of Hope's Tournament of Roses Parade float. The theme of the float is "Made Possible by HOPE." The theme of the parade is "Inspiring Stories."

Here, Melina Fregoso shares her story.

Natalia "Melina" Fregoso, breast cancer survivor at City of Hope Natalia "Melina" Fregoso, pictured at a beauty event for City of Hope patients last March while she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer, will ride atop the 2015 City of Hope Rose Parade float.

By Natalia "Melina" Fregoso

2014 has been a year full of changes in my life. I went from being very healthy to being diagnosed with breast cancer. I went from having long hair to being completely bald. I went from being single to being with the man I have always prayed for. And I left my twenties and turned the big 3-0!

Last December, after a great morning workout, I was taking a shower when I felt a lump on my left breast. I didn’t wait a single minute to go to the doctor. I started 2014 undergoing a mammogram and an ultrasound, and then a biopsy later in the month. On Jan. 23 was when I heard, “You have cancer.”

I was scared, but relaxed. I was 29 years old and I had breast cancer. I went to the car, and I started crying, while praying to God for strength and something positive to come out of this situation.

I was referred to City of Hope and I believe that was one of the biggest miracles I have experienced in my life. Laura Kruper, M.D., head of breast surgery service, was the first doctor I talked to. She explained everything. She drew a picture of what kind of cancer I had. She assured me I was in the right place, and I knew I was going to be fine.

City of Hope treated me like I was a family member. I never felt like I was either a patient or even a number. All my doctors knew my case from beginning to end. They were and still are very understanding.

I went through six chemotherapy sessions. My first was on Valentine’s Day and my last on June 6, 2014. After I was done with chemo, I went through a left mastectomy and removal of some lymph nodes.

During treatment, I didn't stop working out and this helped a lot in my recovery. I wasn't able to do the intensity I was used to, but at least I was able to do my cardio. This made a big difference between staying at home in bed and trying to push your body. I knew that I would get tired easily, but working out was a big part of my healing. I also had a great support system: family, friends, co-workers and church. Having the support and love from so many people was priceless. They lifted me up every time I would go down.

On July 15, 2014, I was declared cancer free. Those words were the most incredible, emotional, wonderful, exciting and relieving words I have ever heard. Since then I have finished radiation and will eventually have removal of the right breast and finally reconstruction.

2014 taught me how strong I am and that no matter what life brings, I will be able to overcome it. I couldn’t be happier and more excited to celebrate the beginning of a new year at the Rose Parade. Every year since I came to the States, I have always woken up early to be able to watch the parade.

It means the world to me to represent City of Hope and all the women who fight cancer. After having cancer, I am inspired to move forward and never give up in anything that I do.


Read more about City of Hope's Rose Parade float.

Learn more about becoming a patient or getting a second opinion at City of Hope by visiting our website or by calling 800-826-HOPE (4673). City of Hope staff will explain what's required for a consult at City of Hope and help you determine, before you come in, whether or not your insurance will pay for the appointment.



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