When the biopsy for cancer in her left breast came back positive, “my world flipped upside down in a matter of a second,” recalls Belkys Silva. “I was in shock and disbelief, my eyes began to water and a knot formed in my throat as I pictured telling my six-year-old girl, ‘Mommy is dying.’”
About a month before, in June 2012, Belkys had noticed that her left breast was visually larger than her right. She scheduled an appointment to see her regular doctor at Cleveland Clinic Florida, who then scheduled a battery of tests that included a biopsy. “I am a healthy 35-year-old, I am not worried about getting breast cancer,” she recalls thinking at the time. But when the biopsy results turned out to be positive, she says, “a billion things came to mind. I was scared and felt alone.”
She soon met with Dr. Margaret Gilot, a breast surgeon, at Cleveland Clinic Florida. “When Dr. Gilot told me I had several options, my eyes opened wide, ‘Options,’ I said. ‘You are telling me I am not dying?’ She said, ‘Absolutely not.’ Belkys had a double mastectomy shortly thereafter
“I look at Dr. Gilot not only as an amazing physician, but as one of the many heroes I met at Cleveland Clinic Florida ,” Belkys says. “Dr. Elizabeth Stone, a breast oncologist at Cleveland Clinic Florida, is another hero. After my recovery from surgery, I was terrified of the word chemotherapy, let alone the side effects. Being in the care of Dr. Stone was very reassuring. She was honest, genuine and very attentive to how I was reacting to the chemo treatments. I believe that the combination of my positive attitude, Dr. Stone, and the chemo staff’s professionalism made for a great team. I was able to breeze through chemotherapy.
“Dr. Christopher Chen, radiation oncologist at Cleveland Clinic Florida, and Dr. Evan Landau, radiation oncologist at 21 Century, are my other heroes. I was able to breeze through radiation treatments as well. “Cleveland Clinic was amazing. The doctors, nurses and staff members went out of their way to make me feel comfortable. I couldn’t have been in a better place.”
Belkys says that looking at photos of family and friends helped keep her spirits up during treatment. “I was inspired to stay positive for my daughter. I want her to know that whatever cards life may throw her way, that she can look at my experience and be inspired to never lose hope and always keep fighting.”
Had it not been for the breast cancer diagnosis, she says, “I would not have known I had it in me to be this tough. “Sometimes when you are given such tragic news or put in a situation like this, you end up learning a lot about yourself. You get challenged to do things you never thought you could do. In the end, you become a stronger person, to inspire someone else who is going through the same thing.” Now, Belkys says she is motivated to set higher goals for herself. “I feel like the sky’s the limit for me.”Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun