(Survivor (2 - 5 years))
Personal Bio (My story)
Eileen Z. Fuentes
Breast Cancer Survivor
Wellness, Lifestyle and Integrative Cancer Coach
Eileen Z. Fuentes has been in healthcare administration for over 14 years. In 2008, at just 34 years old, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent aggressive treatment, which led to many unpleasant complications including a life threatening blood clot in her heart. While she came across skilled and compassionate healthcare workers, she was awakened to how deficient the medical establishment’s treatment model is but realized that she could overcome these challenges by augmenting the traditional treatment with complementary approaches, diet and lifestyle modifications. After successfully completing her treatment, she hit the ground running and took the appropriate action to turn her newfound passion into something more. She was awarded a scholarship by The Palette Fund, which allowed her to obtain her certification as an Integrative Cancer Care Educator at the Smith Farm Center for the Healing and the Arts, in Washington, D.C. She attended The Institute for Integrative Nutrition and became a board certified Holistic Health Coach. She completed The Harold P. Freeman Patient Navigation Program via a scholarship from the Livestrong Foundation. And most recently she completed the Summer Intensive Cooking Course at The Natural Gourmet Institute for Food and Health. Eileen is a member of The Association for Drugless Practitioners and is the wellness contributor for UptownCollective.com.
After two years of training, Eileen founded and led the first ever Womens Wellness Series for the Clinical Breast Cancer Program at Columbia University Medical Center, specifically aimed at targeting the underserved community of Washington Heights (New York City). This program became quite successful and was featured in the Manhattan Times. Soon after, journalist Linda Abi Assi turned her story into a short documentary entitled, From Illness to Wellness. Eileen was an invited speaker at the annual breast cancer awareness symposium, Bridging the Gap: Promoting Breast Cancer Prevention, Screening and Wellness. She served as the keynote speaker at the National Cancer Survivor Day celebration at New York Presbyterian Hospital and the 8th Annual Breast Cancer Survivor’s Holiday Celebration hosted by The Hudson Perinatal Consortium. She has even started her own company, The SPEACH, Inc., which stands for The Self Promotion, Empowerment, Advocacy, and Care Haven whose aim is to enhance hospital services, educate women facing health challenges and the public in general to self advocate and to take ownership of their health and wellbeing.
Marital Status: Married/partnered relationship
Ages of children:
2-6 years old, 6-12 years old, 12-18 years old
Hispanic / Latin
Ask me about:
health, wellness, patient navigation, disparities, triple negative, Young Breast Cancer Survivor
Health Bio (My Health Story)
In September 2008, I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer at 34, underwent a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. I had 4.5 months of chemotherapy which included a clinical trial drug Avastin. The port and Avastin ultimately caused a blood clot in my heart. In April of 2009, I completed both chemotherapy and the blood clot had disappeared. I completed reconstruction in May of 2009.
- Disease: Breast Cancer
- Cancer started in:
- Lymph nodes:
no lymph nodes involved
- Date of first symptom:
- Date of diagnosis:
While the entire medical system is very disconnected. It is a much more prevalent issue for those in underserved communities.
You Can Heal Your Life by Louise L. Hay Great book!
I have been unable to find resources for 'long-term' integrative care. There are temporary solutions like the You Can Thrive wellness center that offer intergrative therapies for low-income women or independent hospital clinical trials. Even when they do exist, the communication is not widely available to those who need it the most. As you know, consistency is key to impact overall health and prevention. I started a free 6-month program at Columbia University Medical Center where I led holistic nutrition classes and worked with a yoga instructor/survivor. We had special guests come in and offer integrative therapy instruction and treatment at no additional cost to the participant. While it was incredibly successful, it was also temporary. We are currently working on an ongoing program.
Hands down, food was the most effective lifestyle modification. Trial and error (mostly error) helped me to figure what worked and what didn’t. I hired health professionals and did everything from raw/vegan foods, heavy dairy/meat, juicing, supplements, and even Ensure® when I couldn’t keep anything down. This journey led me to go back to school and to finally figure it out on my own. Every person is unique and food can make all the difference.
I also had weekly reiki and massage treatments, walked daily, practiced qigong, and used spirituality in the form of meditation and prayer to answer the “Why Me” question. I worked with my acupuncturist to schedule treatment immediately after chemo which drastically reduced my body aches. Adding these therapies even after 3 years has been easy simply because they work. I feel better than before my diagnosis and I want to make sure I stay that way.
I think most women, in underserved communities and beyond, have now become aware of breast cancer. Outreach efforts and local clinics usally provide free screening. The issues occur after diagnosis. Paying for surgery, treatment, and prescription medication is where the problem lies. There are very limited resources and many of these women are out of work, earn low wages and have limited insurance, if at all. Single household families have additional obstacles related to childcare. In my opinion, funding first needs to go to treatment. Then we can move on to support services, being educated on self-care, advocacy, working with caregivers, and a long-term survivorship plan will take them a long way.
Thank you for your response. I actually met you last year at the Society of Integrative Oncology (SIO) conference. I am very well of the integrative therapies out there and teach it to my clients. In addition, I used to work at youcanthrive as a integrative patient navigator/health coach but the program is limited to 3 months. I was hoping that maybe there was something more long-term. As you know these services can become quite costly. The women I work with are all in an underserved community and would never be able to afford anything other than meditation or fitness in the form of walking where there is not cost at all.
I really enjoyed this session! Thanks Annie!!
Much continued success to you and all the work you are doing.
(Survivor (2 - 5 years)) began following the conversation.