In 1993, at the age of 41, Brenda Acebes was diagnosed with colon cancer. She describes herself as being extremely healthy and exercising every day. After going into remission she was advised if the cancer came back it could go to her breasts. At the time, she asked about getting a mastectomy but was told that would be too extreme.
In December 2015, she had a mammogram that showed she had breast cancer. She had recently retired and got the call while on vacation in Las Vegas.
“I let my guard down.” Acebes said.
They removed the tumor along with 22 lymph nodes, 11 of which were cancerous. The cancer she had was aggressive and after surgery she went through 16 rounds of chemotherapy.
“The first four were brutal,” Acebes said. “One of them was referred to as ‘the red devil.’”
She continued with her chemotherapy every other week, and had 25 radiation treatments that finally ended on July 7, 2016. Now in remission, she says she still doesn’t feel like a survivor.
“Breast cancer was a terrible battle, but I’m here and I’m grateful,” Acebes said. “You have to be in charge of your health.”
Acebes has no children, and has been married to a retired Army veteran for 42 years. She grew up in Richmond Hill and will take a pill every day at least for the next five years to make sure the cancer doesn’t come back.
“I’m thankful for every day,” Acebes said. “I have become more spiritual because this round brought me to my knees.”