How The Quinteros Stood Up To Cancer

“We thought the worst. We feared we would lose her.”

Briana Quintero, English major, feared that her mother Maggie would succumb to breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2001, Maggie Quintero’s cancer affected not only her health, but her entire family’s life.

“I felt that I had been taking her for granted and I feared so much to lose her,” said Briana.

She described how difficult it was for her sister and brother and herself to see their mother go through chemotherapy; it was a depressing episode in their lives, seeing her lose her hair and look in pain all the time. Still, even in those crucial circumstances, Briana was amazed at how her mother could mask all of her pain.

taken in 2002

“My mom was so strong, smiled through it all.” – Briana Quintero.

“She was so strong in front of her children, Briana said. “My dad was the only one who truly knew how she felt.”

Thankfully, after two years of chemotherapy and radiation, Maggie Quintero won the battle with cancer, and was cleared and declared cancer-free in 2003.

Later, in 2008, Briana’s father Felix Quintero was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Her family was shocked.

“Like with my mom, I thought death,” Briana said. “I was so afraid I would lose him.”

Maggie, already having faced cancer before, was devastated; she and Felix were inseparable.

“She looked depressed,” said Briana. “She feared the surgery wouldn’t be enough, that it wouldn’t end there.”

She talked about the waiting after the surgery and what it was like for her and her family. “It was a waiting game, and thank god we won.”

Felix won his battle with cancer 6 months after his surgery, when he was cleared and cancer free.

Briana ready for her surgery once again.

Briana ready for her surgery once again.

Just when Briana and the rest of the Quintero family thought they were cancer free, Briana herself was diagnosed with skin cancer in 2011. She had only experienced the effects of cancer before from an outsider’s point of view, but now that she was in her parents’ shoes, she saw how scary it really was.

“I was depressed. I was terrified,” she said. “I was only 15 years old. I wasn’t sure how to handle it. I was just scared.”

During the time period of countless doctor appointments and surgeries, she said she held on tight to her faith, praying and feeding off the support of her loving family, her closest friends, and the thoughts of her future and how she would be strong like her parents were when they went through it. Her prayers were answered in 2011, when she was declared free of cancer.

Now that she is cancer-free, Briana has learned about the Stand Up To Cancer Foundation.

“This is where the end of cancer begins,” declares the Stand Up To Cancer website. Stand Up To Cancer is a great new foundation that has been striking the media, with celebrities such as Taylor Swift, who debuted the song “Ronan” during their telethon in September 2012. Swift read about Ronan, a 3 year old boy who died of neuroblastoma in 2011, on his mother’s blog, and wrote this song in memory of him. Maya Thompson, his mother, was happy to hear that Swift would honor her son in such a way. “Everyone will know his name,” Thompson wrote on her blog.

Briana loved what Stand Up To Cancer stands for and would love to contribute to more research towards unique chemotherapy and radiation treatments. She would love to promote such a program on her own social media, and raise money for the foundation, to raise more awareness.

This organization was founded in 2008, and 100 percent of the donations go to the collaboration of scientists who work together to develop new treatments faster in order to save lives now. The first five scientific “Dream Teams” were launched in 2009; today, there are now over 12 Dream Teams and 2 translational research teams all making great advances in trying to discover what makes a cell malignant. The Dream Team also aspires to create a more diverse and individual way of chemotherapy and radiation therapy for each type of cancer.

“Cancer really can affect anyone,” Briana said. “We shouldn’t wait until it happens to us, or someone we know to help. We can end this now.”

Briana, Maggie, and Felix Quintero all cancer free, at their daughter's graduation in June f 2014

Briana, Maggie, and Felix Quintero all cancer free, at their daughter’s graduation in June 2014.

Photos courtesy the Quintero family.

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