Ana Revelo Jaramillo Interview

Ana Revelo Jaramillo Interview

Ana was born, and currently is living in New Jersey.  Her young parents moved to Ecuador to be near family after Ana’s birth. She spent all her childhood in Ecuador completing all schooling up through high school. In 2019, Ana returned to the States by herself to live with her aunt. She completed her GED so she could become an international student. In September of 2020, her mom came to visit her. It was then she had her first seizure at the age of eighteen. She had never been in a hospital before.  She underwent an MRI which indicated she had a glioma on the left frontal lobe of her brain. The doctors told her they could manage her tumor with Keppra. It was also indicated she would receive MRI’s every 3 months as part of follow up and observation. At that point she went to Ecuador for 3 months to visit her family.  After returning to the states, she had 3 more seizures, which resulted in her undergoing several more MRI’s. She was transferred to another hospital specializing in Cancer treatment. There, when the doctors saw her MRI results, she was told she needed to have surgery right away. That surgery revealed that the glioma had become an Anaplastic Astrocytoma grade 3. Once surgery was completed, her treatment would be Radiation and Chemotherapy for 1 year.

Regardless of this change in treatment plan, Ana was always positive and optimistic. What helped her the most was visualizing herself healthy all the time. She wrote daily declarations and affirmations for herself. Then  recorded herself and played them back every night before she went to sleep. Listening to her own words and strength helped her a lot. She always stayed positive. She describes seeing chemotherapy, not as an enemy but as a friend. Even though the chemo kills both good and bad cells, it was helping her to become safe and healthy. She did NOT look things up on the internet. Her team at the hospital cautioned against it because it wouldn’t be helpful or uplifting. She did not want to be scared or pessimistic about her situation. Her mom was extremely helpful by doing research from trusted sources.

Ana continues to have MRI’s every 3 months and her Neurologist every 8 months. She also sees her oncologist every 3 months as well. Radiation and chemotherapy were completed almost a year ago. All treatments, including her surgery, were done at Robert Wood Johnson Center in New Jersey.

Her Chemotherapy was a monthly oral pill, Temador. She stayed positive and focused living in the present and not worrying about the future. She also made sure to listen to and “hear her body”. She was told to expect really bad symptoms and side effects. She proudly stated that it wasn’t all that bad!  She shared that with every Chemotherapy cycle, she remembered everyone is different, and she just listened to her body and did not expect the worst!

Ana credits her mom for connecting her to Heart of The Brain. She said her mom was constantly looking for positive resources for Ana’s treatment and growth. Ana checked out HOTB online. She read about Isabel’s experience and was inspired by her journey. While it was hard for Ana’s mom who came from Ecuador to take care of her. She didn’t always understand all that was happening, and it was difficult for Ana.

“It was hard, but we did it!” Ana’s mom, who is a psychologist, was very helpful in all ways.

Ana is inspired, when looking back on what she went through, to become a chemical engineer. Her family was amazing and helped her get through the treatments, but she wants to be able to take what she has learned and help and inspire others going through anything similar. She wants to work in the pharmaceutical industry for her career path. Her dream would be to find drugs that have less side effects, ultimately helping others have an easier time in chemotherapy treatment. She thinks that because she has faced brain cancer, she cannot only help but also inspire others going through treatment too.

Today, at 21, Ana feels good. She regularly goes to the gym which helps her a lot. She is mindful about the foods she eats, and cautious about her sugar intake and chemicals in general. Her hair came out around her surgical scar and radiation area, but instead of looking for hair replacement treatments, she is going to live with it as is, and it will become a reminder she is stronger than cancer.

“Everything is possible if you focus on your objectives and goals in life and stay strong. You get stronger too when fighting with cancer. The thing that helped me the most was writing down the things that I wanted to do in my life, and in the future. Seeing myself in the future, healthy and stronger. Also, you are not alone. When one person in the family gets cancer, everyone does. Everyone is trying to help you, in their way. Everyone is with you and makes you feel good too. You realize that your family is strong too and you all went through this together. It is not just my fight, but my families’ fight too. That made me stronger. It helped me visualize myself as stronger and healthy, and that I did it.”

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