Toni Gonzales

I’ll start my story in October 1971. I got married October 23, 1971; six days later my mom died from ovarian cancer.

Fast forward to September 1983, when ABC-TV news did a week segment on breast cancer. I really didn’t pay much attention until the last night, when they showed the easiest way to check yourself in the shower. The next morning in my shower, to my amazement, I found a lump near the nipple on my right breast. I went to work with that thought in my mind. That night I showed my husband; he was shocked and said “get to the doctor now.” My gynecologist sent me to a Cancer Surgeons Group. I had several tests done, none of which told anything. Next, I needed a biopsy. I said, “No. I want the whole lump removed.” Of course then the doctors wanted me to sign for a mastectomy, if necessary. I refused to sign and had the lumpectomy surgery. After I woke up, the doctor said, “Yes, you have cancer and you must decide as soon as possible what you want to do.”

On October 6, 1983, I had a mastectomy on my right side. After I finished chemotherapy in December of 1984, I had a mammogram of my other breast and they found what they call a mirrored image of the lump, same size, same place. I was told I must have another mastectomy and another year of chemo as soon as possible. I was exhausted, weak, scared. I said I wanted a second opinion and my doctor wrote a letter for me to be seen at City of Hope.

My first appointment was January 25, 1985 with Dr. Margaret Kemeny. Since then I have been coming to City of Hope (my Garden of Eden) all these years. The precious care received from the doctors, nurses and all the staff, be it medical or clerical, is fantastic. In 2001, from my chest X-ray they found lung cancer and sent me to Dr. Grannis, a thoracic surgeon. Dr. Grannis did my lung surgery and became my guardian angel. Again in 2003, from my mammogram they found the lump in my breast had grown and moved. With my history, I then saw Dr. Paz, another angel who did my lumpectomy.

In November of 1992, my husband and I moved to Carson City, Nevada. I told my husband I will not go to new cancer checkups in Nevada, only City of Hope, and he said, “Of course.” My husband passed away in 1997.

They say there is no place like home. Well, to me there is no place like City of Hope, where all the angels live and work miracles. Here’s to another 100 years; I salute you all!