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Carpe Diem! Kuishi Mara Moja!

Allison Eng-Perez

CARPE DIEM - Allison Eng-Perez

Carpe Diem! Kuishi Mara Moja!

Seize the day! You only live once!

As I celebrate my 50th birthday and 12 years since my breast cancer diagnosis, I reflect on life:

CANCERTAINTY: Cancer can certainly change your world and everyone around you.

I am about to embark upon the second most challenging physical event I have ever participated in….200 Miles on my BIKE! Almost 10 years ago, my husband, Victor, and I rode 200 miles through the California mountains to raise funds for young women affected by breast cancer and we are going to do it again. I signed up for the Tour de Pink, sponsored by the Young Survival Coalition (YSC) to raise awareness of young women affected by breast cancer and to keep fighting. Victor became my biggest supporter and cheerleader, he has been my personal trainer ever since I signed up. We rode the Tour de Pink together as a team because we don’t know how to do this any other way. He has been by my side since the beginning and I plan to be by his side for many years to come. I will be training with the daily support of our two incredible boys, Victor and Angelo. I ask you to join us in our second journey over the next several months as we train again for another 200 mile Tour de Pink bike ride to help those who are still fighting and those who have not yet begun.

Please help us find a cure and support those still in the fight. My goal is to raise awareness and help others by sharing my story as part of my 50th birthday celebration. Please feel free to forward my story on to anyone that you think may benefit. I am incredibly blessed to be celebrating my 50th birthday with my family by my side and I hope each of you will celebrate with me because you are part of this incredible journey called life.

I invite you to read and share my personal story:

June 21, 2010:

I looked out my office window and smiled at the cruise ships passing by. It was a beautiful sunshine filled morning in Miami. We had a wonderful weekend celebrating Father’s Day kayaking in Biscayne National Park. It was the first day of summer camp for my boys, Victor, 5, and Angelo, 2. They were so excited about their first day and I was thrilled that they were able to go to camp together for the first time. I arrived in the office a little later as I took a few pictures of the boys and watched as they ran off to the tennis courts. Life could not have been better. We were planning a family vacation trekking through the Georgia mountains on the Appalachian trail a few weeks later.

Back in the office, I began preparing our team for our presentation to our board of directors. My phone rang, it was Victor, my husband, checking to make sure that I had phoned the doctor. I had noticed a small pink drop of liquid in my sink on Friday night but I thought it was from the boy’s paint. I saw the same small pink drop of liquid on Saturday night. I laid in bed wondering what it could be. I got up at 3 am and looked around the sink but still had no explanation. Something told me that I should call the doctor but it was Father’s Day. Victor and I discussed it and decided I would phone first thing Monday morning.

I called Dr. Mendia’s office and spoke to his nurse. She reassured me that it was nothing to worry about since I had two young boys and fed both of them naturally. She informed me that Dr. Mendia was going on a cruise but would be back in two weeks, she scheduled an appointment upon his return. I continued to prepare for my presentation. Victor called to confirm that I had called the doctor and I assured him that everything was fine. I was practicing my part of the presentation when my office phone rang, it was Dr. Mendia’s nurse. She asked where I was, I laughed and said you are phoning me at work. She asked what I was doing and I laughed again and said, “working.” Then, in a very serious tone, she explained that Dr. Mendia recommended a baseline mammogram. When I asked when, she responded, “actually, they are waiting for you now.”

I drove to the woman’s clinic alone because I told myself that it was nothing. Dr. Mendia is always very thorough and responsive so I just thought he wanted to ease my mind before he left on vacation. I brought all my work papers with me to the clinic and I set up in the waiting room. After the first test, I returned to my presentation. After the second test, I watched some of the World Cup and I talked to Victor about the Spanish team. After the third test, I realized all the other ladies in the room had left and a new set of ladies arrived. Three more sets of tests and the nurse assured me that it was taking a long time because I was young, 37, and it was my first time. After hours of tests and waiting, I was told there was one last ultrasound and then, I could go. The nurse finished the test and told me that I could get ready to go but first, she gave me a big hug. As I was starting to get ready, the door opened, a lady with brightly colored short hair entered and said:

"I guess you know by now, you have cancer."

I don’t remember much but I remember trying to phone my husband but I just kept dropping the phone. I remember gasping for air and begging the nurse to call my husband. I remember feeling a heaviness in my heart as I recalled the boys running off to camp. I remember feeling alone, lost, confused and scared. Then, I remember praying…I prayed that the doctor was wrong. I prayed that I had more time. I prayed that my boys would be safe. I prayed for another day. I prayed…


I can tell you with certainty that cancer does change your life. It changes the lives of those that know you, love you, surround you and interact with you. It reminds us how vulnerable we are. It reminds us of our mortality. It reminds us how special our lives really are.

I was diagnosed with Stage 3B Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. In other words: Breast Cancer. I was 37, a mother of two young boys, a wife, a daughter, a professional and a woman with a passion for education. I was no different than anyone else you know. I had no symptoms. I had no warning signs. I have no family history. I was healthy, young, relatively fit and yet, there I was facing the reality of a cancer diagnosis at 37. It was the most difficult moment in my life to date. I am a consultant, a problem solver, but on that day, I had no solutions. I did not know where to turn. Everyone surrounded me with love and support but I never felt so alone in all my life.

No one is prepared for cancer. No one knows what it feels like until you are the one on the other end of those words, “you have cancer.”

My angels, my husband, Victor, and my mother-in-law, Eva, reminded me that this was my opportunity to take all my project management skills and apply them to save my own life. We started to map out our plan. We drove from clinic to hospital, from hospital to doctor’s office and the journey started. We were guided from one office to another with very little progress, just tests and more tests. Doctors provided conflicting recommendations on treatment plans. Nurses gave their opinions. Friends and family wanted me to talk to their neighbors, their grandmothers, their friends but I couldn’t find anyone that shared my same fears, concerns, questions because I couldn’t find anyone who was young, a mother of two young boys and eager to fight this disease head on. The local doctors told me and my husband not to worry. They recommended surgery, then, chemotherapy. There was no sign of urgency; we waited for hours to see doctors who spent 10 minutes with us. This all seemed so surreal. I was at a loss for words…

A very dear friend and colleague reached out to check on me and realized that I needed help. She, too, said it was time to take action. She started to make calls, we started to make calls and with some luck and lots of great guidance from one of my fellow healthcare partners, we made our way to MD Anderson in Houston, TX. Victor and I left our boys with my mother-in-law and boarded a plane to Houston. Within hours of our arrival at MD Anderson, they were able to provide me a detailed diagnosis and provide us a recommended treatment plan. We spent one week in Houston completing a battery of tests and creating a detailed treatment plan. We returned to Miami armed with information and resources.

It was a long multi-year process including biopsies, scans, chemotherapy, surgeries, radiation, hormone-therapies, follow up medications and more even more surgeries years later but it was worth it. Everyone in our community, our friends and our family rallied around us to provide me and my family incredible support. We found the Young Survival Coalition (YSC) on-line and they provided me an incredible support system and network of resources to help guide me along the way. I attended the YSC annual conference and I was inspired to overcome this terrible disease with even more motivation and drive. I met women who had endured far more than I; we shared stories and we traded tips along the way.

CANCERTAINTY: It changes everything but it also reminds you of the most important things in life: your family, your faith and your friends. It was a family effort but We overcame Breast Cancer! CARPE DIEM—live each day to its fullest, cherish your family and your friends! Never give up! We have lost so many to this horrific disease but we continue to fight, to overcome and search for a cure. Let us never forget those who have gone on before us and let us support those who are still in the fight. I ride for all those we have lost and all those still in the fight, especially my friends Maria, Sarah and Tammy.

Thank you for being part of our lives, we pray that you and your loved ones are never touched by this disease but we know that 1 out of 8 women will be touched in their lifetime.

I've made an exciting commitment to become a YSC Champion with my campaign: CARPE DIEM. The money I raise will go to support Young Survival Coalition (YSC), the premier non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and educating young women affected by breast cancer.

Each year, more than 13,000 young women 40 and under are diagnosed with breast cancer. I am making the commitment to help raise money to support these women, so they can face breast cancer feeling empowered.

YSC and all the women for whom we are riding will appreciate your support. How will your tax-free contribution help?

$25 could fund YSC materials at three healthcare providers’ offices.
$100 could provide a Newly Diagnosed Navigator to six women when they need it most.
$250 could allow us to train four survivors to serve as peer supporters.
$500 could fund a Young Empowered Survivor (YES) educational program.
$1,200 could pay for two women to travel to our annual conference for young women affected by breast cancer.

Larger Donations are used to help women in all aspects of their treatment and survivorship journey to include mammograms and life saving support.

Thank you, in advance, for your support.

Carpe Diem,



raised of $12,000 goal

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