By Carolina Santurian
The thirties, the 3rd floor, “la flor de la edad”, whatever you may call it, I am sure it represents more than a number to every woman. As we approach this age, I believe most of us find ourselves in a state of anxiety that we have not experienced before. We all get too concerned thinking how we are going to keep up with society standards and prototypes. We are leaving our fabulous twenties to start a “new life” in our thirties. Supposedly, at this age is when we make money, when our professional careers need to go uphill rapidly, when the period of time to have kids becomes shorter every day; that’s assuming you have already found the love of your life and have gotten married. Ufffffff, it is so overwhelming. From my perspective, I don’t think I fit there.
When I was kid I use to see people in their thirties as old people. I couldn’t picture myself at that age. However, if I tried I would see myself married at the maximum age of twenty-seven, and I knew I wanted to be a young mom. Today, I am thirty-two and none of these has happened yet. I still want to get married, that is the one thing I dream of everyday; having kids, well, that’s on another level. Don’t get me wrong; I love kids, you will understand as you read.
I am originally from Argentina and I moved to the U.S. in 2002. I graduated cum laude at Barry University with a Major in Advertising. During my college years I met wonderful people who have become close friends. I had the opportunity to work at MTV Latin America, which still sounds like a dream to me. Last year I also became a Realtor. Honestly, I never ever thought I would be capable of moving to a country so far away from mine and earning a degree in a different language. But here I am, after all!
At the sweet age of twenty-eight, when I was about four days away from a trip to Europe with one of my sisters, my cousins, my mom and grandma, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. At the moment the doctor gave me the results in front of my dad and my boyfriend, with no “anesthesia”, in the coldest way one can speak to a human being, I literally froze. I sat down and the first thought that came into my mind was: I am going to die. My dad’s reaction was quite the reaction of a dad who is seeing his little girl suffer, in fact, it was that times 17. All he wanted to do was to punch him in the face, HARD. My boyfriend, on the other side, reacted in a more practical way. He started asking what we needed to do to get rid of it. In the meantime, I remained silent. Long story short, he wanted to perform a double mastectomy. That’s when my dad asked him for all the results and we GTFO of there. I then spoke on the phone with my gynecologist in Argentina and we decided to fly the day after just to see him. In less than ten days, I had a lumpectomy; it wasn’t necessary to remove the breast, only the lump. As soon as I recovered from surgery I came back to the U.S. for treatment. I went through eight rounds of chemo followed by six weeks of radiation.
As I look back, and I don’t like to brag about it, I think of how brave I was. I lost my long red hair, my eyebrows, my lashes, I gained so much weight, I felt so tired and nauseous, but I still managed to beat cancer. Needless to say, what kept me alive was love. The love from my family, my boyfriend, my dog and my friends did wonders in my healing process. I don’t think I’d be writing here today if it wasn’t for them. Despite the immense sorrow of seeing me go through that, they would still put their best face everyday and stayed by my side when I needed them most. My dad even shaved his head to make me feel better. One of my friends has donated her hair twice in my honor to make wigs for the people fighting cancer; my dog would lick my bald head every morning in the innocent attempt to make my hair grow back I think. My mom, she gave up her life in Argentina for six months to be unconditionally by my side, and my sisters, there are no words that can describe what they mean to me, they are my most precious treasure. Now, my boyfriend, he is the one who saved my life, not only because he was the one who found out I had a lump but because he is the man of my dreams, the one who deals with my extremely hot temper, the one who makes me laugh, the one who loves me and my dog like no one else does, the one who does everything to make me happy, the one who I know I will marry one day.
All in all, you must be thinking now of the saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. Well, let me tell you, having been diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of twenty-eight and being alive to tell the story, one can say I am a tough cookie. However, I now find myself way more sensitive, and vulnerable than before. I don’t know if it’s the cancer or the thirties, or something else, but my heart feels a lot softer. My respect, compassion and love for animals have grown immensely, not to mention the dream of some day owning a huge farm where I can take care of all the animals that need a loving home. I also feel much more nostalgic, I am not a big fan of the passing of time. For me, time flies, and it is not a cliché. So that is one of the things I learned from what I have experienced; life was created to be lived, to do the things we love and enjoy every minute of it. My grandfather used to say this to me all the time: “Problems are part of life, some are bigger than others but they will always accompany you wherever you go”. The trick here is to give the right amount of importance to each of them, and that is something I am working on daily. I am a very anxious person, and I tend to worry about things before they even happen. I’ve been like that since a long time ago so I know that changing the way I think will be a life-long endeavor.
As a breast cancer survivor, with no history of breast cancer in my family, I would like to mention that I now strongly believe in the connection of the mind and body. Fear, anger, hate, envy are feelings that take us to no good place. With this, I mean that my cancer was something brought about by repressed feelings from my childhood, which is a whole different story, and also by the way I used to look at life. We are what we think; I am positive about that. Your mind can either save you or kill you.
To conclude my story, I want to tell you that I got my hair back, that I was able to go on that Euro trip a year later, that I am still the hot temper redhead I used to be but with the ultimate goal of becoming a person filled with inner peace in order to embrace all the good things God has put in my way. I look forward to traveling the world, as that is what I love the most and to live my life with passion. James Dean once said: “Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die tomorrow”. From now on, that will be my motto.
Let the thirties look good on you or better said, let you look good on your thirties!!!
Born and raised in Mar del Plata, Argentina. Moved to Miami, FL in 2002 and have lived there since then. She has a passion for animals and strongly support the cause to stop their abuse. Her family, boyfriend, dog and friends are the most important thing to her. Her ultimate goal is to travel the world and live a happy healthy life.