Local survivor shares her story

Andrea Justice/Arizona Silver Belt Angela Canizales shares her story of being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016.

Angela Canizales was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer in 2016. After noticing a sore spot on her left breast, she thought to herself, “It’s cancer!” Her mother already had it. It ran in her family. But with no medical insurance, Angela was left waiting for her new job’s coverage to kick in before she could get checked out. As soon as she could she got a mammogram, then an ultrasound, which led to a biopsy and finally a diagnosis. Angela was faced with the most aggressive form of breast cancer, triple-negative breast cancer. This type of cancer tests negative for the hormones estrogen and progesterone, and the protein HER2. “Some cancers respond to hormone therapy, and of course I couldn’t do that,” said Angela.

Angela ended up having a mastectomy on her left side, 16 rounds of chemotherapy, and 34 radiation treatments. During her chemotherapy Angela tested positive for the PALB2 gene, meaning she was genetically at risk for breast, ovarian and pancreatic cancer. “When I found out I had the gene I went ahead and got a mastectomy on my right side. I also had a full hysterectomy because of the chance I could get ovarian cancer,” said Angela. “My mom is an eight year cancer survivor and I have another cousin who just went through it this past year.”

During chemotherapy Angela lost all of her hair and food tasted like metal. She struggled but remained strong and says that it was positive thinking and the support of friends and family that really pulled her through the toughest times. 

When Angela finally finished chemotherapy she continued to get checked every three months and now gets checked every six months. “It’s always in the back of my head,” said Angela. “When my mom found out she was at stage four she was strong, and I had to be strong too. That keeps me going.”

With a strong message of encouragement to anyone fearful of getting a mammogram, Angela says, “Just Go!”

“I’ve always hated doctors but when I felt that lump I already knew I had it,” said Angela. “If you do get diagnosed keep the negativity out of your life and reach out to people for help. Drink plenty of protein shakes and stay as active as you can. Positive vibes make a huge difference and you have to live your life and do whatever you can to find happiness and the strength to stay motivated.”


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