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Home : News : News
NEWS | Nov. 16, 2021

Breast Cancer Awareness 5K participant details her struggles against cancer

By Olivia Mendoza Sencalar 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

In April 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Blanca Conde was preparing for her daily run in her neighborhood.

While getting dressed, the 59-year-old medical assistant raised her arm and felt a lump on the left side of her breast. It didn’t hurt, but it scared her. She immediately made an appointment with her physician, hoping it was nothing serious.

On April 23, she received a call confirming she had stage 2 breast cancer. Conde’s life changed in the blink of an eye as her worst fear came true.

As a testament to her experiences and her resilience, Conde ran in the Breast Cancer Awareness 5K Run/Walk held at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph’s Heritage Park Oct. 30.

“This was my first 5K run, I owed it to myself because I’m so grateful to be here,” she said. “I was happy to be there with my husband, granddaughter and grandson, as well as meeting others who are like me and making new longtime friends.”

According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 250,000 US women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and at least 40,610 with breast cancer will result in death. The purpose of this event was to bring awareness to how to detect, prevent, and treat breast cancer.

The annual non-competitive event, which is open to anyone with base access, raises awareness of breast cancer and the importance of early detection and regular screenings during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

As the youngest of nine siblings, cancer runs in her family. Her mother died from stomach cancer caused by ulcers, her father died from melanoma cancer in the brain, her brother died from colon cancer and her sister was recently diagnosed with melanoma cancer on a finger.    

In May 2020, after additional biopsy tests, she found out the cancer had aggressively progressed to stage 3.  She immediately began a 20-week chemotherapy treatment, causing hair and eyebrow loss and weight gain.

The treatment put Conde in a state of depression as she felt her beauty was fading. Conde, who is married to a retired chief master sergeant and has three children and five grandchildren, initially found comfort being in her bedroom alone watching television but slept a lot due to the chemo treatment.

Conde is now in remission and grateful for the treatment, her hair has grown back and she’s in better spirits and health despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

She’s thankful to have been given a second chance in life and is not looking back. Her experience made her much stronger and resilient and now she’s ready to share her story.

Knowing she will now be able to continue making travel plans with her husband makes her especially happy.

“It feels great to be able to dress up, put on make-up and go on dates with my husband,” she said.

For Conde, there is a beautiful life ahead; life challenges do not compare to what she endured.

“It’s important to make your annual mammogram appointments. I did not think I would be here today after hearing that I had aggressive cancer.” Conde said. “I would tell someone who is just now finding out they have breast cancer to have faith and don’t give up.”