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Choosing to Thrive with Cancer: Robin's Story

"It's difficult to be sick, but I’m here today. I’m alive. And I can still do good things for people– even if it’s just a smile."

Robin Gutierrez
Breast Cancer

For the past 26 years, Robin Gutierrez has focused on helping others through teaching. Her passion for her students caused her to put off seeing a doctor when she started experiencing hip and back pain in 2015. She wanted to be able to finish the semester.

That summer, Robin received an unexpected diagnosis: Stage 4 breast cancer. Moreover, the cancer had spread to her hip and spine, causing broken bones and nearly paralyzing her. She immediately had surgery to repair the damage, and was surprised when she was prescribed physical therapy.

“I thought, what’s the point of going through physical therapy if I have cancer and am going to die,” Robin said. “I assumed I would be home with hospice, not recovering and starting cancer treatment.”

Robin started treatment, but says at first she stopped making plans and was reluctant to dream of the future.

“I was so afraid I wouldn’t be around for my grandson’s first birthday,” Robin said. “Or see my sons graduate high school and college.”

But surprisingly, Robin started feeling better. Though she will likely be in treatment for the remainder of her life, her care team has encouraged her that they can keep the cancer under control.

“At a certain point, I decided that I’m going to keep living. Really living. I’m not going to sit at home waiting to die. I can still be productive and most of all, happy.”

Because of the time required for her treatments, Robin had to step away from school, but she’s looking for a way to get back to helping kids, even if it’s only part-time.

Though she’s not back to 100 percent and knows life won’t be the same as it was, Robin has resolved to find something positive in every day.

“It’s difficult to be sick, but I’m here today. I’m alive. And I can still do good things for people– even if it’s just a smile.”

Her constant optimism has been an inspiration to those she sees every day. She recently impacted a fellow cancer patient who was struggling with sadness and anger over her disease. She gave Robin a note reading:

Robin says moments like that remind her that God has a plan for her life, and her faith gives her confidence to keep going.

The information included in this testimonial is based on one patient’s unique experience and is not intended to represent all patient outcomes or expectations.