Client Spotlight: Luisa
My name is Luisa and have been a client of Shanti’s Women’s Cancer Program for more than eight years. I was diagnosed with breast cancer 10 years ago and had my first surgery shortly after my diagnosis. My coordinator at Kaiser gave me a folder of resources for breast cancer patients, and I decided to contact Shanti because they were the most accessible. I was in my early 60s and still working. I was so depressed and worried.
As a Shanti client, I attended different activities like Tea Time groups, art therapy classes, and massage. During my recovery, I retired and my life started to revolve around my two young granddaughters.
Four years ago, I was unfortunately diagnosed with breast cancer in the opposite breast. Again, I was depressed and worried. So, I contacted Shanti again for help because the care that I received from Shanti in the past was helpful and my Care Navigator listened to what I needed. The staff was friendly and easy to talk to. My Care Navigator connected me to Meals-On-Wheels for temporary meal delivery. I received comfortable garments to wear during my post-surgery recovery. I learned about different activities at UCSF Cancer Resource Center. Now that I’m retired and my granddaughters are older, I am able to stay very involved with Shanti’s supportive programs. Not only have I attended groups like Nutrition Education and Cancer Divas letters to cancer writing support group, I also teach other Shanti clients how to crochet and I emcee our Mother’s Day celebration.
I learned that eating right, being physically active and free from stress are very essential in fighting back cancer. My Cancer Divas and I didn’t know each other at the beginning, but we have grown so close and trusting of one another. Through Shanti, I had the pleasure of meeting other cancer survivors and was able to connect, support, and develop friendships. We are able to non-judgmentally express ourselves through our writing and really listen to each other’s experiences. Having friends to talk to and feeling cared for is the best medicine for a cancer survivor on her difficult journey. Being with Shanti makes me realize I am not alone. Shanti also gives me the chance to see the beauty of San Francisco by creating a walking group. I love going on walks across the Golden Gate Bridge with my Shanti peers.
I try to advocate for other cancer patients’ needs. I always tell them to call Shanti, especially when they need more help than I can give. My close friend, who’s also a Shanti client, has been connected to financial, food, and transportation assistance. Helping people gives me strength. Though I don’t have cancer in my breasts at this time, I am still being treated for a rare type of blood cancer called Polycythemia Vera. It will be part of my life forever.
Shanti continues to help me in so many ways and has given me lasting friendships with many of the other Shanti clients. I have had the opportunity to develop new skills and grow in new directions.