31 Days of Impact – Day 24, Agueda Fernandez-Webster
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AGUEDA FERNANDEZ-WEBSTER, SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – Latina Breast Health Navigator
“After so many tears, so many CT scans, MRIs; there was no way I was leaving Norma by herself.”
“All of us have certain patients that strike a chord and remind us of our mission and the truly important things in life.”
“My experience with Norma remains a constant reminder of the many more women out there simply awaiting a companion during difficult times.”
As a Latina Breast Health Navigator with the Franciscan Foundation, a Komen Puget Sound Grantee, I have educated, loved, and supported many women over the years. Yet all of us have certain patients that strike a chord and remind us of our mission and the truly important things in life. For me, that patient was Norma Solis, a woman who recently passed away from breast cancer, but not before opening my eyes to how often I take many things for granted. I felt a strong connection to Norma from the start and was constantly by her side, giving her support during the worst times of her breast cancer treatment. Without any friends and family close enough to help, Norma needed me to ensure she made her appointments, monitor her medicine, and speak up for her as an interpreter to make sure people knew her wishes.
On May 24, 2012, Norma received her last chemotherapy (her decision) and voiced the desire to return home to Guatemala to spend her last days with her family. During one of her last chemo sessions, I sensed something was on Norma’s mind and sure enough, she soon began to bombard me with question after question about planning for her trip home and I realized she had never been in an airplane, or even been to an airport for that matter. Listening to her nervously anticipate how she would handle everything on her own I made up my mind and immediately reached out to Komen Puget Sound to help fund two plane tickets for both Norma and myself. After numerous chemo sessions, multiple doctor’s appointments, countless times sitting with her waiting for her to be picked up and so many tears, there was absolutely no way I could I leave her by herself. I just did not have the guts or the desire to do so.
Komen Puget Sound connected with KUNS TV, Seattle’s Univision affiliate. Univision did a special on-air fundraising broadcast for Norma featuring News Anchor Teresa Gonzalez, who interviewed me and Norma. This drive successfully raised needed funds to support Norma and her family. Norma made it safely home to Guatemala with me unwaveringly by her side. Norma died on July 30, 2012 in her own home, surrounded by her loved ones.
My experience with Norma remains a constant reminder of the numerous women out there simply awaiting a companion during difficult times – someone who can be there by their side and help them get through what life throws their way. It is my promise to Norma and the many more women I will be fortunate enough to meet throughout my career, that I will be that someone.
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About the author
Nancy G. Brinker promised her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer forever. In 1982, that promise became Susan G. Komen and launched the global breast cancer movement. Today, Komen is the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists fighting to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures. Thanks to events like the Komen Race for the Cure®, we have invested more than $1.9 billion to fulfill our promise, becoming the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in the world.