Plenty of people today use social media as part of their daily routines. Some log on to discuss sports, while others plan vacations or share recipes.
Michelle Reyes of Chula Vista discovered a different purpose for social networking
two years ago when starting her fight against cancer: to provide hope to fellow patients.
In April 2009, Reyes was a healthy, active 29-year-old when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Stunned by the news, she initially kept her feelings to herself, not wanting to worry those around her.
But Reyes needed an outlet to express herself, so she created a website to chronicle details of her journey through cancer. After posting her first blog entry, she received comments from people who said they too had cancer, and wanted to connect with her to share experiences. Reyes has responded to every request.
“I began to realize that being open and positive about my situation was giving others with cancer a sense of comfort that they are not alone,” Reyes says. “And every time I talk about my own journey, it’s a stepping stone for me to heal, too.”
Reyes estimates she has linked with hundreds of cancer patients and their friends and family to offer guidance and support. And having branched out with Facebook, Twitter and Myspace, she’s raised more than $10,000 for cancer research via an annual breast cancer walk.
“Many cancer patients are so wrapped up in getting their own lives together that it’s hard for them to reach out to others,” says Scripps oncologist Joan Kroener, MD. “Michelle is unique. She’s showing others that you can move forward after cancer.”
Reyes discovered a lump in her right breast during a self-exam, which led to her cancer diagnosis.
After receiving chemotherapy to shrink the tumor, she had a mastectomy at Scripps Green Hospital in fall 2009. A blood test revealed that she had the BRCA gene (which indicates a high risk of breast cancer recurrence), so she underwent a preventive mastectomy on the left breast at Scripps in fall 2010.
Now cancer free, Reyes credits her recovery largely to Scripps physicians Dr. Kroener, Ray Lin, MD and Pamela Kurtzhals, MD, along with her nurses and therapists.
Reyes and her Scripps physicians will be honored during pregame ceremonies May 2 at PETCO.