Maria is an AYA cancer survivor living in Los Angeles. She loves the outdoors, especially hiking and backpacking in the mountains. Maria is lucky to have the support of her partner, Ben, and German Shepherd rescue pup, Tuna.
What was your cancer diagnosis and how was it discovered?
I was diagnosed with diffuse large B cell Lymphoma. I had pain in my lower abdomen and after a few months a large mass appeared. I had an MRI and a 7 cm mass was discovered in my rectus abdominus muscle. After a biopsy, it was discovered to be Lymphoma.
What is the biggest piece of advice you have for newly diagnosed patients?
Please make sure you advocate for yourself! If a doctor or caregiver isn’t listening to you and addressing your needs, speak up.
What is the most important thing you learned from your cancer experience?
I learned to appreciate family and friends even more. I have never felt more loved and supported as I did when I had cancer. People in my life really showed up to help. And for that I am eternally grateful and feel very lucky.
What was the most difficult aspect of organizing your care/community?
I hate asking for help. So being in such a vulnerable position was very difficult. A company like OneVillage would have been perfect for me. It would have allowed me to direct friends to a site with all the things I needed during care. I also found it extremely hard to decide the best course of care. I was faced with two different doctors recommending two different treatments, one more aggressive than the other. So again, a site like OneVillage would have been really helpful to me as I navigated that decision.
What are three words you would use to describe your cancer experience?
Exhausting, Scary, Perseverance
Are there products, services, experiences or physicians that you couldn't be without?
I had terrible mouth sours during chemo so Biotin, smoothies, soups and metal straws were my saviors.
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