October 1, 2020 By [email protected]_84 Off

CHI St. Luke’s The Woodlands Hospital employee, cancer patient faces obstacles with gratitude and thankfulness

In 2014, Heather Lozada was working as a nurse in Lubbock, but she felt something pulling her to Houston.

She applied for some jobs in Lubbock, but also put in for some in Houston where her sister lived. She applied for an educator position in the Texas Medical Center and within hours was scheduled for an interview.

“It was like God was saying, ‘Go to Houston, Go to Houston,’” she said.

She got the job and days later she and her husband, Joseph, bought a house in Houston.

“Everything was working out like it was supposed to,” Lozada said.

But she had a nagging feeling. She felt a lump but wasn’t too concerned. She was breastfeeding her 9-month-old son. She thought it was just a clogged milk duct.

She knew her insurance was about to run out with the job change, so she wanted to get it checked out just in case.

She had a mammogram and her OBGYN ordered an ultrasound.

Cancer diagnosis

“Everything had been working out so well, then all the sudden it was ‘oh, you have cancer,’” she said.

She had no history of breast cancer in her family and she had always lived a healthy and active lifestyle.

“It was a shocker being diagnosed with breast cancer,” she said. “I just never really thought it would happen to me.”

While she was still in Lubbock, she had a body scan and a biopsy.

She got the results while on a girls trip traveling to Houston with three of her closest friends.

Over the phone she found out she had Stage IV breast cancer that had spread to her liver and her lungs.

“It took my breath away,” she said. “I remember whispering, because that’s all I could do, “It’s in my liver.’” Especially being a health care professional, I knew what that meant. It was totally shocking because of my age and someone who lived a healthy lifestyle.”

She couldn’t help but question, how could this happen and why?

Once in Houston, she reached out to Dr. Julie Nangia with Baylor College of Medicine’s Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center. Nangia was the wife of her husband’s college friend.

Nangia presented the case to her colleague Dr. Kent Osborne and he became Lozada’s doctor.

First he had to get the results from Lubbock of what type of breast cancer it was. They determined it was HER2+ breast cancer.

Before she had even received the results of what type of cancer it was, she had asked Dr. Osborne what type of cancer he specialized in and he told her HER2+.

“I remember my heart skipped a beat. God had set me up with this physician who is world known for this type of cancer that I have,” she said.

She knew her care was in the right hands.

“I felt like I was a person at Baylor College of Medicine,” she said. “Not just a number.”

Starting treatment

Her treatment began on July 11, 2014.

She started on four different types of cancer medication and the aggressive chemo drug Taxotere.

She did the strong chemo for four and a half months. She lost all her hair and her eyebrows. But she took the hair loss in stride saying being bald was so much easier.

In January 2015, she had a double mastectomy with Dr. Elizabeth Bonefas and eventually two reconstructive surgeries in fall 2015 with Dr. Shayan Izaddoost.

Throughout this time she was still working in the Texas Medical Center and commuting in from Magnolia which had its challenges.

One was sitting in morning traffic on the way in. She would get on the bus for the commute at 6:15 a.m. Most people would grumble about the early commute and traffic, but due to the gratitude and thankfulness she developed during her cancer journey, she learned to appreciate and enjoy little things about the commute like the sunrise.

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