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Maria Leyva and her husband, Salvador, have traveled all over the world — including Hawaii, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Middle East — due to Salvador's job as a special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), but when Maria was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2011, the couple feared they would be grounded for good.
"I never thought it could happen to me," Maria said of her diagnosis. "I was in denial, but something in me kicked in and I knew it was time to fight."
Fortunately, Maria's cancer was caught at the earliest stage — stage 1 — thanks to her vigilance with regular check-ups and screenings. She began treatment at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, which included surgery to remove her tumor and radiation therapy five days a week for six weeks. Her husband went with her to every appointment.
"It was difficult, wanting to support my wife but knowing I couldn't make everything better," Salvador said. "I read a book about cancer for couples and it helped a lot."
To show his support, Salvador, an avid runner, ran the San Diego Rock 'n Roll Marathon on June 5 and wore a special shirt he made that thanked the members of Sharp Chula Vista's Radiation Therapy Department for taking care of his wife. Five days later, Maria's cancer was officially declared in remission. Making the day even more joyful, it happened to be Maria and Salvador's 22nd wedding anniversary.
"It was the best day of my life," Maria said. "I'm just so grateful I made it through and can think about the future now."
Looking toward the future, Maria and Salvador plan to begin traveling again. In addition, Maria hopes to volunteer with cancer patients.
Find a San Diego Oncologist
To find a Sharp-affiliated doctor, search for a San Diego oncologist specializing in breast cancer or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm.