This month's featured #bloomgirl is Cindy Ortiz. Cindy is Breast Cancer Survivor and a total inspiration! Read more about her incredible story below!
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your story!
I am a 44-year-old lover of life and all things family. I am a mother of 2 wonderful boys. Wife to an amazing and supportive husband. And I am a breast cancer survivor. Prior to my diagnosis, I was a full-time work from home Project Manager for a large health insurer. My daily life consisted of working, taking care of my family including volunteering on kids sports committees along with being the ultimate sports mom. Football, basketball, baseball. Who has time for themselves at that point? So when I found the lump I thought eh just another cyst it could wait.
Then came December 9, 2016, the day that changed my life forever. Nothing like hearing the words “this looks like cancer”. Breast. Cancer. The months turned into years of treatment and obstacle after obstacle. Although from day one, my approach was, "I am going to get through this". I also wanted to get through it, living the most normal life I could. I didn’t want my kids to see a completely sick momma. I didn’t want my own momma to see a sick daughter. I wanted to show them that I was okay and I could try to live as normal a life while tackling this monster.
It definitely wasn’t as easy as I thought. My kids, my mom, dad, husband, and sister ended up seeing me in pretty bad shape. There were times I was not able to get out of bed, they saw me lose my hair, and the kids I was so desperately trying to take care of, ended up having to learn how to take care of themselves more.
How were we going to handle this? One of the initial obstacles was not being able to take care of my household and handing over the control of it all. My mother spent her days keeping things afloat at our home while taking care of me. Having the house and mundane daily tasks taken care of allowed me to enjoy dinners out, go on vacation, and have some normalcy managed around my treatments.
I’d like to think that the experience has made my family stronger and closer and has made my kids more independent. I know it certainly rushed my 20-year old into adulthood quickly.
Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
It's hard to pick just one. I’ve met survivors that have guided me through my journey. Other patients that I met during treatment and friends who were diagnosed at the same time. I have taken a bit of inspiration from each of them.
However, the biggest inspiration didn’t come from a cancer survivor herself but the person that held my hand the whole way, from feeling the lump at the kid’s basketball practice to coordinating my care in the blink of an eye. Lisa Laphan-Morad has been my hero, my angel, and my inspiration not just on this journey but the whole journey of life. She is my go-to for medical advice, being a nurse practitioner herself, and she is my calm voice of reason and my confidant. Lisa lost her mother to breast cancer, and she also had an aunt battling breast cancer at the same time I was. Lisa's helped me tackle so many tough decisions. A successful and busy hospital administrator always took my meltdown calls and arranged my care. A busy career mom in her own right balances success brings people together, manages a blended family and always knows the right thing to do and say a true life mentor and inspiration.
What is the biggest challenge you've faced in life? How have you overcome it?
This one is easy. Anyone that knows me will tell you that losing my hair was my biggest challenge. Losing my hair meant I was sick, losing my hair showed my kids that mom was sick, losing my hair meant losing part of my identity; or so I thought. I tried to save it using “cold caps”. That turned out to be a torture device that didn’t work for me. I will never forget when it started coming out in clumps. I was in the thick of chemo, had a severe cold but had plans for a Pocono getaway with several families. I remember thinking can I do this? Then the support came from my angels….they said, "come we will take care of you." I went, and that group of people will never know how much they helped me that weekend.
If you could talk to yourself 5 years ago, what advice would you give yourself?
Take time to take better care of your body, take time to exercise more (the laundry will always be there so will the dishes and the housework) keep up with YOUR doctor appointments. We all make sure we have those yearly appointments scheduled for the children but do we all do the same with our own? Take care of yourself first because if you go down, you can’t take care of your family.
What are some life lessons that helped shape you?
It’s interesting to see the outside world’s reaction to what you are going through. The ones that were inundated after the initial news, the ones that just want to be in the know, and the ones that stay with you during the whole journey, bring you soup, donate to your causes, check-in, text, show up for rides, feed you when you can’t move your arms after surgery. You learn the goodness of people, how to weed out the fake friends and embrace the relationships that are now stronger and let go of those that fell apart.
How do you keep such a positive outlook on life?
I recently read somewhere that we only get to be in our bodies for a limited time; so why not celebrate them instead of riding it out until it’s over. This hit home for me, and this is the mentality is what has gotten me through these hard times.
So keep setting goals, keep enjoying life…no matter your age. Kick your fears from past experience and take life by the reigns and be a gladiator.
What message would you like to give to anyone going through a similar situation as you have faced?
Living in the past will bring depression and thinking about the future (cancer recurrence) brings anxiety, try to live in the present. I admit I am still working on this.
What are your favorite bloom products, and why? Were they helpful in your recovery process?
My favorite products are of course the Soft Cover Daily Planners. I had appointments after appointments, and I don't know how I could get through without it. The Hanging Wall Calendar keeps the family informed and on task. The Planning Pads help me keep my daily goals in order and accomplished. I also love giving the Wedding Planner as gifts for all of my upcoming brides!
We hope you enjoyed reading about Cindy's journey and her resilence in her fight against Breast Cancer! Please, don't go another day without taking the time for yourself. 40% of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump. We encourage you to prefer a breast self-exam today. You can learn more about how to perform a breast self-exam here: https://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-self-exam
Do you have a #girlboss story to share? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be our next featured bloom girl!
the bloom team