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Breast Cancer Survivor Encourages Preventative Care

Publication: KGBT-TV (CBS), McAllen

The Texas Oncology center in McAllen wants to remind Rio Grande Valley residents that preventative treatment can be key to surviving cancer.

Maria Kalil, 65, of McAllen, had her last chemotherapy treatment on Wednesday, after an eight might battle with cancer.

Doctors found a cancerous lump in Kalil's breast after a routine mammogram. After Kalil saw an oncologist, doctors discovered that cancer cells had also started making their way into Kalil's lymph nodes.

Kalil remembers the day that doctors told her she had two types of cancer in her body.

"I'm going to give you good news and bad news. The bad news is that you have cancer, but the good news is that the cancer you have is in the same family, so it's going to be okay," Kalil recalls her doctor saying.

It is estimated that about 315 people will be diagnosed with breast cancer in Hidalgo County this year. In Hidalgo County, the estimate is at 198.

In the same year, 106 cancer patients are predicted to die as a result of the cancer.

However, oncologist Dr. Alvaro Restrepo said if the cancer is caught early, the patient can survive.

"If they are diagnosed early, the chances of having a five-year survival for a stage one it is close to 100 percent," Restrepo said. "That's why it's so key to do early diagnoses. The earlier the disease is diagnosed, the better the outcome -- the better the chances of cure long-term."

Every person has a different medical history, so talking to one's physician is key in determining the best preventative measures, according to Restrepo.

"Know your family history, and try to change your risk factors, again, obesity, alcohol, tobacco, inactivity, hormonal treatment therapy. So, doing all of those things, the chances of developing breast cancer are less and if you are diagnosed with breast cancer then it's going to be at an earlier stage and your chances of cure are going to be more higher," Restrepo said.

Now considered a breast cancer survivor, Kalil wants the public to know prevention helped her win the battle.

"We have to fight. We have to know that it is a prevention that is good for us, and to tell everybody that it is good," Kalil said.

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