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Sierra Galvez: An Unwavering Spirit

Sierra Galvez

“Truly…every day is a gift.”

 

Sierra Galvez
Breast Cancer

Cancer can strike anyone at any time. Sierra Galvez knows this all too well. At age 18, she was diagnosed with a breast angiosarcoma, a very rare — and aggressive — form of cancer.

For Sierra, the first hint that all was not right came early one morning in the fall of 2016. A habitual stomach-sleeper, she began feeling pain in her breasts upon waking. She tried to remain carefree about it, but the pain persisted. Over time, symptoms such as redness and swelling in her left breast began to emerge.

Upon examining Sierra, her physician suspected an infection and prescribed antibiotics. After seeing little improvement, Sierra’s doctor referred her to Dr. Allison DiPasquale, surgical oncologist at Texas Breast Specialists–Methodist Charlton Cancer Center, a part of Texas Oncology. Dr. DiPasquale recognized that something wasn’t right and ordered the appropriate testing.

An extensive series of tests finally led to a surprising diagnosis: primary angiosarcoma of the breast.

Given the seriousness of her condition, Sierra immediately began treatment. According to Dr. Eric Nadler, medical oncologist at Texas Oncology–Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center, “Angiosarcoma of the breast is exceptionally rare, spreads rapidly, and is treated like other sarcomas rather than traditional breast cancer. Chemotherapy, radiation, and surgical resection are involved in both cases, but the drug choices, doses, and order involved in treating angiosarcoma are quite different.”

Chemotherapy came first. Three to four hours a day, Monday through Friday, Sierra underwent treatment, taking an additional dosage home with her. Her signature long, curly hair began to thin and fall out after 12 days. Undaunted, Sierra gave herself a buzz cut.

All the while, Sierra continued her studies in broadcast journalism at the University of North Texas, only dropping out long enough in the spring of 2017 to undergo a mastectomy. This surgery was followed by two more rounds of chemotherapy, then daily doses of radiation.

The treatment took its toll on both Sierra’s body and spirit. By September 2017, she was exhausted. One afternoon, and with yet another medical appointment looming, Sierra broke down in tears, telling her father that she didn’t want to continue. “I just didn’t want to do it anymore,” she recalls.

What Sierra didn’t know, however, was that she had won. She went through with her appointment that day and received the news that she was cancer-free.

Sierra underwent reconstructive breast surgery and has since resumed school. She’s also an intern in a program supported by the Ryan Seacrest Foundation, preparing and presenting audio-visual programs for patients at a local children’s hospital. Sierra loves the work, as it allows her to share her story of survival with other young people living with cancer while gaining valuable experience for her future career. 

Remembering the fight for her life, Sierra gives full credit to her doctors at Texas Oncology and to her family, especially her brother, Miguel, a fellow cancer survivor. With their support, Sierra says, she now realizes just how precious life is. “Truly…every day is a gift.”

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.