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“Bond Girls” Support One Another Through Cancer Treatments

Publication: San Antonio Express-News

The three women met at the Texas Oncology–San Antonio Medical Center during the same appointment times for radiation treatments for breast cancer.

Oralia Vasquez, 60, of Devine, and Carolyn Guerrero, 42, of Floresville, met in August. Claudie Barnes, 77, of Bulverde, completed the group in September.

They found support from one another when COVID-19 protocols only allowed patients in the clinic for treatment, which could have been an isolating experience. Instead, the trio’s anticipation of seeing each other gave them something to look forward to in the waiting room, a daily visit that lifted their spirits.

They shared an abiding faith in a higher power. They shared stories about their lives and their children, grandchildren and being a grandmother-to-be. The more they shared how they felt, the closer they became.

At the center, they’re known as the “Bond Girls.”

“The bonding we have together is because of our faith,” Vasquez said. “We started opening up to one another about our fears, about our emotion, our families and how we got there. (We learned) our bond was about faith. It’s because of our belief in God and prayers.”

The trio recalled their experiences at a picnic table in the shade of trees across from the North Side center where they met. They sat shoulder to shoulder and leaned on one another as they talked about their gratitude for each others’ support. They talked about grappling with medical terms, fogginess after chemotherapy and the toll emotions can take on the senses.

Guerrero was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer in her left breast and ductal carcinoma in her right breast. In February 2021, she had a mastectomy, followed by chemotherapy and radiation.

“It put us in good spirits to know we could understand each other,” Guerrero said. “It gave us strength.”

Barnes put her arm around the mother of four when she dabbed at tears, as Guerrero recalled the kindness of a man she didn’t know. She was distraught before a chemo treatment when he approached her.

“God’s going to take care of you,” the man told her. “I’m going to pray for you, and everything is going to be OK.”

“That brought me comfort,” she said. “I sat down and said, ‘I’m going to get through this.’”

Barnes had surgery and radiation and now is on oral chemotherapy. They called her “the giver,” the one who brought them candy, essential oils, lotions and vitamins.

Written by Vince Davis

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