Tina Flores

Tina Flores was raised in a large, loving family of 16 – 9 boys, and 7 girls, but it wasn’t until she was diagnosed with breast cancer that she realized just how important having that incredible support system can be.

Tina was first diagnosed with Grade A, invasive breast cancer in July of 2017. “Of course, the experience was not a pretty one. It was very hard to accept,” Tina remembered. “I couldn’t even talk, I was speechless. I guess I was in awe that I had breast cancer when no one in my family had ever had it before. I cried, I just wanted to be alone with my own personal thoughts.”

It wasn’t until her fiancé at the time encouraged her to tell someone in her family, that she finally reached out to her brother who had worked at Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) for many years. He recommended Dr. Pommier at OHSU, as Tina’s sister-in-law went to him for breast cancer as well. Tina was living in Idaho at the time, but she knew how important it was to get the best care, so she set up the appointments and got going on treatment. She went to OHSU Portland for surgery, radiation, and infusions that she still receives every 6 months.

While Tina was receiving frequent treatment in Portland, she moved back to Oregon for two years to stay with her family. She was traveling from Salem to Portland, so her social worker recommended she apply for the Susan G. Komen Treatment Access Program. Through the program, she received a visa gift card once a month to help her pay for gas and meals while she was at the hospital.

“[The Treatment Access Program] makes it easier and lifts a big worry off of you. I appreciate that from the bottom of my heart more than anything, because it was a big load off my shoulders – one less thing I had to worry about.”

Despite it taking a while for Tina to accept the help from her family, she feels fortunate to have had their support throughout her breast cancer journey. With a family of 16, she always had someone to go to the doctor with her and take her out of the house to get her mind off the cancer. “That was the best, and I think the best thing for me was that I chose to be near my family,” Tina reflected.

When asked what she would say to someone who has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, Tina advised, “if people want to support you in any way then can, let them. Don’t be afraid to call and ask for help. It can get very expensive and very overwhelming, so whoever is there to support you, take it.”

“Don’t let the cancer control you, you have to control the cancer. That was my mistake – I was letting the cancer control my thoughts and every single day of my life.”

Tina has been forever changed by her journey through breast cancer, and she encourages others going through it to stay strong: “I pray and hope that all the women out there fighting cancer, if they don’t win the battle, I pray and hope they will win the war. That they all will. Don’t let that cancer control you.  I’m one of them, I’m still going through it and I will face it the way I’m supposed to. I won’t block anybody out anymore, it’s just not right.”

To learn more about the Treatment Access Program:

For assistance, please call 211info’s Treatment Access Program Specialist by calling 503-499-4302 or emailing komen@211info.org.

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