Cancer warrior practices power of positivity

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Cancer warrior practices power of positivity“Everyone says that attitude is everything when it comes to fighting cancer,” said Amanda Diaz, diagnosed at age 30 with breast cancer.

“I have delved down deep, trying to understand how being positive can affect someone’s healing. Maybe it comes from a chemical released in your body. For me, I think it comes down to having a mindset that helps me maintain my prior normalcy in my new state of normal.”

Amanda found a lump last May during a self-exam. She had no family history, no high-risk factors, no radiation exposure, no BRCA gene. But when she followed up on what she found, she was diagnosed with the disease.

Her whirlwind treatment plan saw her undergo two surgeries within just 16 days of her diagnosis, as well as aggressive chemo-therapy treatments. All of that took place here in Ridgecrest (see also related story, this edition).

“At first, I didn’t have time to fret. I didn’t even have time to think,” she said.

“But the truth is, cancer sucks. It is scary and aggressive. It does not care what’s happening in your life or how much control you think you need,” said Amanda.

“It was difficult, but I took a step back to evaluate. I’m a single mom, I work full time, I don’t like people seeing my vulnerability. These are all things that I knew I had to come to terms with in my ‘new normal.’”

She reached out to her boss, her friends, her co-workers, her family. The response was overwhelming love and support.

“My village was so much bigger than I thought it was. Through every step of this ordeal people have been there, feeding me, spending time with me, supporting my son, driving me around. Even if I didn’t ask for them, people showed up.”

During her chemo treatments at the RRH Cancer Center, the staff would refer to her station as the “party room.” She said that Vickie Rios, Shantell Utley and the other care providers and support staff were wonderful through it all.

Seeing how the love and support of her friends buoyed her on her journey, she committed to sharing her story with those who might benefit.

“One thing I have tried to do with this new platform is share what I’ve learned, ask other survivors what they have learned. I’ve seen nothing but a positive response,” she said.

“I was the person who didn’t cry before. Now I can’t count how many people have seen me cry,” she said. “I wish more people would realize they don’t have to go through it alone.”

Amanda noted that she has made no attempt to hide any part of her experience. She keeps her followers updated with frequent posts on social media. She has embraced her new look — sans hair, eyebrows and typically makeup as well — wherever she goes.

“I have not sheltered my son from it,” she said. “Communication-wise there is a barrier, because he’s 2.

“But he has seen me when I’m in pain, he has seen me get sick from treatments. Still, being a mom is my No. 1 job. I don’t want him to miss out on any part of being a kid. We go to the park, we go do things — and my friends have definitely helped to make sure he is included.”

After grinding through intensive chemo on schedule, Amanda is starting radiation treatments five times a week at City of Hope.

“I’ll be taking a total of 33 trips,” she said. “Technically, they cannot tell when I’ll be clear, but they do tumor markers in my blood, which will help them see if it has spread.”

She doesn’t have bad days, she said. “I have good days, and tough days. But you still have a life to live, whether you are 30 or 90, and I’m super proud that I’ve just gone on with my life.”

For more about Amanda’s story, follower her on Instagram@cancerandacreature.

Pictured: Amanda Diaz and her son, 2-year-old Memphis. — Photo courtesy of Nickole Drake

Story First Published: 2019-10-11