Meet Links for Life Cancer Survivor Chimere Perez
By Genevieve Branco
My Village is Tight
Chimere Perez is still undergoing chemotherapy, although I wouldn’t have known it if she didn’t tell me so. Her cute colored wig felt like a fashion choice and her bright, energetic smile was the smile of
someone looking forward to the future, not marred down in the heaviness of the present. With her cancer diagnosis being one that was so new – October 2022 – you might think that Chimere’s emotional wounds from cancer are too recent to share. But instead, this beautiful woman opened her heart and told me her story to help others who might be going through the same thing.
Chimere’s story actually begins a year prior to when she discovered a lump in her breast. It begins in 2021, when she underwent bariatric surgery and went on to lose 160 pounds. This is a
significant part of her story because she believes that she would never have found the lump in her breast that she found that day if she hadn’t had that weight loss. It’s also important to note that in
October 2021, she had her previous mammogram, just one year prior to finding the irregularity in her breast which turned out to be stage 3, HER2+ cancer. From there it was a quick mammogram and then a biopsy.
It was 5:41pm on October 17, 2022, that Chimere received the call that her biopsy was positive for cancer. She was reeling, asking herself, what do I do now? What can happen next? Who do I call? She was referred to an oncologist and from there Chimere notes that things went very fast. Her oncologist wanted to start with chemotherapy before the lumpectomy, and she had blood work and was fitted for her port-a-cath very quickly. In fact, she started chemotherapy two days before Thanksgiving. It wasn’t until April of 2023 that she underwent her lumpectomy.
Chimere is a bit of a superwoman. Thanks to a supportive workplace and supervisor, she was able to adapt her work schedule and occasionally work from home, and consequently made it through months of chemotherapy having only missed three days of work. For her, working and staying busy was essential for her own sanity. Chimere recalls that she would show up for her chemotherapy sessions with her laptop computer, and the team there would set her up to continue to work while receiving her infusions. But it wasn’t always easy for her. Like others, she experienced tingling and pain, vomiting, loss of hair, loss of taste, and other symptoms that are common with chemotherapy treatments. She has been so appreciative of her husband, two daughters, mother-in-law, sister, and all her family and friends who helped her get through the ups and downs during this journey. She also began counseling with a counselor who is a cancer survivor too, so she knows what Chimere is going through. She encouraged daughters to speak to the counselor, and she works hard to keep communication open between she and them to answer questions and address their fears.
Unfortunately, Chimere’s journey with cancer is not finished yet. After her lumpectomy she underwent radiation, but due to the aggressive nature of her cancer, her doctor decided to err on the side of caution and have her complete more chemotherapy, which she is still doing today. But she is looking forward to what’s next in her life – gaining a promotion at work, spending more time with family, and living a healthy life!
Chimere wants others going through breast cancer to know that everything is going to be ok. Taking your journey day by day is essential to cope with what is going on in your life. She also said she is grateful for the healthy life she knows is in her future, being able to benefit from having lost weight and putting cancer behind her. She knows that we aren’t promised tomorrow, and more than anything she is grateful for those who have surrounded her with love and support. When asked about her support system, Chimere’s comment was simple but profound as she said… my village is tight.