Meet Marlen

Meet Marlen - living in Mexico City, she has decided to share her story to motivate other ladies to keep going and never give up!

Getting to know you:
Tell us a bit about yourself:
My name is Marlen Magali Medina and I live in Mexico City, Mexico and I am 36 years old. I have always considered myself to be adventurous soul, and I am always ready for the next adventure.  I am the youngest of 3 siblings, but we are a relatively small family.  I would describe myself as a happy person, an animal lover and I enjoy life to the fullest.  I work as an elementary physical education teacher.
What is a normal day for you?
A normal day for me must include lots of good humor, music, smiles and I enjoy learning something new each day.
What do you do for fun? Any interests or hobbies?
I love spending time with my friends, travel, dancing, watch movies and board games.  I also love drawing and painting.  I am currently a volunteer for ACUARELAS CON CAUSA A.C., a magical project where you paint and then donate your work to the foundation “Ayudame a sonreir ante el cancer A.C” (Translated: Help me smile against cancer). 
What have you got planned in the next year?
Before I was diagnosed, one of my goals was to study abroad.  I hope I can do this sometime in the future. 
Unusual/fun fact about yourself?
I remember asking my doctor to postpone my first chemo by 1 week because I didn’t want to be bold to go to my sister’s wedding.  I laugh about that so much now because we could have saved money on the hair stylist ??. I have now realised that my hair does not define me and it would not have mattered.  We give importance to things that don’t matter and we don’t realise it until we go through this.  It is much more important to be alive and be able to share moments with the people we love, enjoy life and all the wonders of being alive. 
Biggest achievement in life to date?
To finish my degree.  Since I was a pupil in primary school, I wanted to be a physical education teacher and I did it.  Another big achievement was to be able to be abroad by myself.  It was a big challenge for me and made me appreciate my family and my friends even more. 
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Friendly, happy and a fighter.
Your diagnosis and surgery:
When were you diagnosed with breast cancer?
I was diagnosed in October 2017 and I was 33 years old.
What type of surgery did you have?
I had a left mastectomy. 
Can you tell us a bit about how you felt when you first found out?  - What was your first thought/worry?
It was definitely one of the hardest news I have ever received.  It’s something you are not able to process easily.  Even before the doctor told me he was worried about that “ball” in my breast, I refused to believe that it could be cancer.  After having all the medical appointment and the biopsy, I still refused to even consider the possibility of having cancer.  I just did not want to think about it.
My main fear was that I didn’t know what was going to happen, how fast cancer was growing and what the treatment was like.  At the same time, I was sad to have my family see me go through all of this and having to see me suffer.
I don’t remember ever thinking about dying, it never really crossed my mind.  I only remember thinking that this was not going to be an easy journey but that I can and have to do it. 
Was there anything/anyone that helped you through your treatment?
Many people helped and motivated me during my treatment.  My family (including my cousins, my aunts and uncles), my friend Karla.  I received many calls and visits from my friends.  This illness is not only physical it’s also very mental and emotional. 
Something that hurt me was to lose my breast and also my hair.  I had very long hair and when it started falling out (2 weeks after my first chemo), we ran to a beauty salon to have it shaved and I donated it to a charity that makes wigs with them. I cried so much that day, but to my surprise, that evening my mom came home with her hair shaved off too.  There are really no words to describe all the support and unconditional love she has shown me.  
It now seems ironic and perhaps even funny to think that I was worrying so much about my hairloss, when in fact it’s not the hair or the breast, it is really the fact of knowing that your body is not okay which was actually worrying me.
It took me time to understand all of it and see the bright side and that my body was healing and that everything that was happening was for the good. 
Having been through your journey if your present self could give your past self, advice on something you will experience during the time from diagnosis until now what would it be?
Listen to your body, your body is wise and knows how to express.  Listen to your inner concern and don’t be afraid because everything is going to be ok. 
Do you have an inspirational story to share with other ladies?
My mom is my biggest inspiration.  She had suffered from reumatoide artrtitis for 45 years.  She had been through lots of pain, surgeries, medication and different treatments for more than half of her life and I have never met such a brave and strong woman to face a disease.  She is by far the person that has inspired me the most and motivated me not to give up. 
Do you have any post-surgery styling tips?
Your self-confidence! After my surgery I was told I was not going to be able to dress certain ways, of course now I know that’s not true and I wear what I like.  Wearing a swimsuit was something that really stressed me but it’s so wonderful to use one with internal pockets to hold the prosthesis.  It is so comfortable to wear and you feel confident.  Now I have learned thanks to Biofemme (Nicola Jane’s trade customer in Mexico), that there’s clothes, bras, pjs and everything for wearing after a mastectomy which is great. 
Any advice for other ladies who have or had breast cancer?
Have the strength to tell your stories.  It’s truly a relief for your soul.  Love and hug yourselves, let people that love you, help you and never ever give up.  Life is too wonderful to give up. 
You can learn from the smallest things! I hope that sharing my story will help at least one woman to be more conscious of her health and starts to check herself regularly – it is so important and can save lives!
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