Graduation on the horizon by Cynthia DeLuca, Pomona

Whatever I do, I try to do 100%. Sometimes it's hard for me to keep up with myself. First and foremost, I'm a mom. I am 51, and I've been a single mom since my children were babies. My son Tyler is 17 and my daughter Deonna is 15. I also care for my parents who are 91 and 92. I love being a mother. I also love spending time with my parents and my close friends. I'm a beauty advisor for Lancôme Cosmetics; it's great to make people feel good – feel special – about themselves.

In January 2013, I found a lump and later learned that I had stage 2 breast cancer. Every year since I was 30, I had gone for mammograms. In fact, I had received one just nine months earlier. Cancer and chemotherapy are very scary words to hear – I didn’t want to hear them.

Dr. Karen Karsif was my surgeon. The second I met her, I knew she was the doctor for me. I had a left side mastectomy and got tissue expanders to get me ready for reconstruction. I also had six months of chemotherapy and a year of Hercepton. I'm still receiving Hercepton from Dr. Bhardwaj.

The one-year anniversary of my surgery was February 19, 2014. I cannot believe a year has gone by. Going through it at The Bobbi Lewis Cancer Program made it so much easier for me. Dr. Karsif introduced me to Dr. Laura Sudarski for plastic surgery and Dr. Bhardwaj for chemotherapy. I felt like I had a team of angels on my side. When I went to see Dr. Bhardwaj, I knew he was smart, knowledgeable and experienced. He explained what was going to happen to me, even though I didn’t want to hear it at that time. I knew that he would take good care of me. I felt  like I found my safety net.

Dr. Bhardwaj is an excellent doctor, and the staff at The Bobbi Lewis Cancer Program is by far the best. The nurses are everything nurses should be: helpful, caring, smart, funny. I could go on forever. The staff was a big part of my recovery.

After my first treatment, I became dehydrated. The nurses immediately told me to come in. I was amazed at the care I got. Just the feeling of being safe, knowing they were helping me get better and knowing I wasn’t alone during this scary time were so important.

I am doing great now. I went back to work in December, and it feels so good. I don’t even think about what I went through. My Hercepton will be completed in May. 

I thought my outlook on life was very good before cancer. After all, I was a single mother. I accomplished so much with my children and took advantage of every moment, even though I thought it was the hardest thing I had ever done. I also took care of my parents and always tried to help them in any way I could.

After cancer, however, I learned things about myself. I am so thankful for everything and anything I do. For instance, I am thankful I can exercise. I am thankful that I can get up and go to work. I think it's too easy to take our health for granted. 

This is the hardest thing I ever went through. I had so much love and support from my kids, parents and friends. I will cherish all of those caring memories. I am stronger, smarter and better than I have ever been. 

There's a lot going on in my life. In addition to raising my kids, helping my parents and going to work, I love to cook, exercise and decorate.

My children go to Albertus Magnus High School in Bardonia. Deonna is a cheerleader and does ballet and jazz. Tyler is a senior. I can’t believe he's actually graduating in June and will be going to college. He's been accepted at SUNY Oswego. I don’t know how I'm going to feel without him here. But I know for sure that I am so happy he has an opportunity to go away to college and pursue his dreams. I hope he achieves every one of his dreams; I will always be behind him. 

Thank you to my doctors for helping me be able to be here to see my kids graduate from high school … and college. I will be forever grateful.