By Patricia Hernández
This October I will be 35. I believe my 30s thus far has been the most challenging and yet the most liberating. I celebrated my 30th birthday in a small community surrounded by friends in El Salvador while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer. Together we celebrated with food, laughter, and music, a lovely way to begin my 30s. After I left Peace Corps I moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico and began my dual masters of Public Health and Social Work. Originally from Miami, FL and raised by Cuban parents I wanted to move out west and see what it was like to live close to the Mexican border. After living in El Salvador and hearing so many tales from people who immigrated from there to the United States through Mexico I was curious to learn about the border issues. During my time in Las Cruces I pushed myself more out of my comfort zone as I quickly took the lead in numerous student organizations, work, and personal life. I developed leadership skills and encircled myself with positive and upbeat people as that are some of the characteristics that I have embraced since Peace Corps.
May 2010 my life changed dramatically as my older sister, who was diagnosed with non-smoker’s lung cancer, took a turn for the worst. I rushed home to Miami from Las Cruces and to hear that she only had a few weeks to live. I was distraught at first and then became the strong one as I held her hand each day. I was the one who told her she was going to die and who worked with her to write out her will as no one else was able to do it. The night before she died, she awoke from her drug induced hazed and asked me for permission to leave. I granted it to her and then informed my family it was time for us to say goodbye. I remained by her side until the caretakers took her away.
A year later my mother was also diagnosed with non-smoker’s lung cancer but of a different side. I was in Nicaragua at the time of the diagnosis as I was working with a non-profit organization for my public health internship. Again I rushed home and remained by her side for 6 months until she regained her strength, therefore, putting off graduate school for a year. Once she was better and her cancer was in remission I returned to Las Cruces to resume my studies. I graduated with my Masters of Public Health and Social Work in May 2013.
Although I lost my sister in her physical form I know she continues to remain by my side. Since she has left I have followed more of what my heart has told me and less of what was expected of me. I have recently moved to Nicaragua where I work with the non-profit I completed my internship with. My outlook on life remains optimistic and I always have a smile on my face and a giggle in my throat. Recently I met the love of my life who complements me in every way. I look forward to every day with a heart full of love, joy, and happiness. I feel stronger every day and I am guided by a positive energy force called ki. In April 2013 I also became a Reiki Master so I can continue to assist people with healing energy so they may continue to live their lives to the fullest. I am blessed every day for the gifts I have been given and those I can share with others. I am blessed with family and friends who support me in all that I do and love me just the way I am. I am thankful I can share this story with pride and happiness. Blessings upon all of you and may you continue to prosper in all that you do.
Born and raised in Miami, traveled around the US and Europe seeking new adventures. In her late 20s joined the Peace Corps and was thankfully sent to El Salvador, a beautiful country with courageous people living day to day. Her love of Latin America and working with people who have suffered from traumatic situations, such as civil war, yet who are survivors due to their resilient nature. Recently moved to Nicaragua and works with a non-profit called Emergency Response Services for Latin America as a Project Coordinator and assisting local firefighters with resources, such as training and support. Her future goal is to operate a wellness and healing center with her partner Joel and best friend Libby by providing holistic services somewhere in Latin America.