Learn more about our services and programs through those who have benefited from them, our local survivors.

Meet Links for Life Cancer Survivor Cory Corrales

By Genevieve Branco

Faith that Moves Mountains

I can’t imagine a better way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon than having coffee with Cory Corrales. If you ever get the chance to do so, I’d highly recommend it. To say that Cory’s faith is infectious is an understatement, and when I arranged our meeting, I wasn’t expecting to go to church there in that Starbucks, but I did. Here’s Cory’s story of endurance and faith, as a 39 year old breast cancer survivor who keeps worry at bay by grounding herself in the present and leaning on God.

It was at the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020 when
Cory received the bad news about her routine mammogram, prompting an MRI and biopsy of her left breast. She was only 36 but had begun mammograms at age 30 because of her prior medical history. See, Cory had received radiation to her chest before, during her treatment for lymphoma when she was 18, placing her at increased risk of breast cancer and prompting breast screenings 10 years earlier than normally recommended.

It was June 2020 when Cory was called by her doctor and asked to come in person to discuss her biopsy results – and to bring her husband. Things moved quickly after that. Although the cancer was deemed to be stage one, in a single breast, a lumpectomy was not an option because she couldn’t have radiation a second time in her chest.

Therefore, on July 1, 2020, Cory underwent a single mastectomy of her left breast. There was lots of good news after the surgery. Nothing was found in her lymph nodes and her pathology report showed some of the lowest numbers her surgeon had ever seen. Cory counts herself blessed because she didn’t have to undergo chemotherapy like many survivors she has met. She is thankful to the technician who caught the irregularity on the mammogram, as early detection helped determine her positive outcome.

After the surgery removing her breast, Cory wanted to get back to normal life as soon as possible. She had been an athlete all her life and by mid-July she was going on walks, which turned into walk-jogs by the end of July, and soon, just jogs. She has two children, ages 3 and 6 at the time of the surgery, and they had stayed with their grandparents during the two days she was hospitalized. One
thing that hasn’t returned to normal yet is that her younger child won’t allow anyone to tuck him in but her, even to this day.

If you’re wondering, no, Cory didn’t have surgical reconstruction of her breast. In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health, it is estimated that up to 40% of single mastectomy survivors decide against immediate surgical reconstruction. Although in the early days after her surgery it was hard to get used to her new physique, she says she eventually realized that she was worth a lot more
than anything physical. She was fitted for a prosthetic initially that didn’t fit well which was challenging, but upon her prescription renewal last January she was able to find a place in Los Angeles that focuses solely on breast prosthetics and has been happier with the outcome. When asked if she’s content with her decision she affirms that she made the best decision for her, her spouse, and her family, and wouldn’t do things differently, but iterates that every woman needs to make her own decisions for what is right for them and there is no wrong answer in choosing your own path.

Cory was also very candid about her biggest hurdle since her diagnosis, which is that the hormone blocker that she is taking is warp-speeding her into menopause at only 39 years old. She
shared that the reason this has been so hard is because it has caused her to struggle with self-regulating her own emotions, which is something she has always been in control of. She has found several interventions that have helped during the past months, but mostly she is just letting her body work itself out one day at a time.
Links for Life has been nothing short of a sisterhood for Cory. When she would sign on to the virtual meetings, she wouldn’t even need to say anything because they already knew. Particularly for her, living in a house of men with her husband and two boys, she found the camaraderie of the group through a difficult time to be immeasurable.

Above all, it was Cory’s faith that got her through her breast cancer journey and continues to be her bedrock today. When asked if she worries about getting cancer a third time, Cory says she keeps
worry at bay by recalling her favorite scripture in the Bible, Matthew 6:25-30:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the
air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?    Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?” 

Life certainly has its ups and downs, and we are not promised tomorrow. But what Cory has figured out is that each day is a blessing, and it is important to live life in the present counting the good things immediately before us instead of worrying about tomorrow. She is most grateful for her husband, her family, her church family, and the many friends and sisters she has in her community and at Links for Life. When asked what advice she would give to others following her journey Cory says to focus on the
growth you’re experiencing and appreciate the good days.