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Maria Quiñones Sánchez, the lone Latina voice in Philadelphia City Council, has revealed she is battling breast cancer.
Quiñones Sánchez, a Democrat representing the 7th District, revealed in a statement from the Philadelphia Inquirer on Saturday that she was diagnosed with the disease this summer.
“I am waging my own battle against breast cancer, a battle that began this summer after I had my first mammogram in seven years,” wrote Quiñones Sánchez.
Despite knowing she had a lump in her left breast, the councilwoman said she had postponed cancer screenings first because of “work and life” and then because “COVID-19 gave me another excuse not to go to the doctor. “
Quiñones Sánchez said she underwent a mastectomy in August this year in hopes of avoiding chemotherapy and radiation, but despite the removal of her left breast, doctors told her she needed the treatments to prevent future illness.
“Three days after I had my breast removed, I attended a Zoom meeting with my staff, without missing my duties as a city council member,” she wrote.
Quiñones Sánchez said that although she is currently cancer-free, she is receiving chemotherapy at Penn Medicine and expects to begin preventive radiation in a few weeks.
Initially, the councilor said, she planned to remain silent about her diagnosis until she completed her treatment in December, but she was inspired to speak out after thinking of women close to her who lost the battle against breast cancer, as well as seeing women share their own breast cancer stories during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Quiñones Sánchez said she is particularly concerned about black women and Latinos. Black women are nearly 40% more likely than white women to die from the disease, while breast cancer is the most common form of cancer diagnosed among Latin Americans.
“Get a mammogram regularly. Because of my own experience, I have learned that regular screening is absolutely essential to detect and treat this disease,” wrote Quiñones Sánchez.
The councilwoman added that doctors have told her “this whole experience may be in hindsight” in February next year.