Breast cancer and domestic abuse awareness month just ended, but this survival story is so incredible, it’s not simply bringing awareness to those unfortunate circumstances.
Antonieta Mendez is a testimony of how to invent a happy life when life has not treated you well.
“Dr. Rose, I don’t want to see it,” she cried when Dr. Franklin Rose of Utopia Plastic Surgery opened her chart to a photo of her body post-mastectomy.
“I have a lot of memories, really ugly,” she said.
In 2003, this mother of two’s cancer diagnosis did not include love, support and pink ribbons. Instead, she says an abusive husband got meaner, called her a monster and stood in her way of reconstruction.
“He pinched me and said no!” She said. “I scared of him.”
After five years of misery, battling the disease and making constant trips to the emergency room, she says a doctor (doing a test out of suspicion) found extremely high levels of arsenic in her body.
“He gave me poison. So I didn’t know, I didn’t know every other week or every week I go to the hospital really sick,” Mendez explained when she finally realized those times of illness were a result of the alleged poisonings.
Faced with allegations of abuse, she says her husband vanished and he's never returned.
So recently, she's felt free and confident. She found information on The Holly Rose Ribbon Foundation, first given to her at a time when she had to hide it from her husband.
“One day I’m folding my clothes and I found the number,” she said the number literally landed in front of her.
She booked an appointment with Dr. Rose, and once he heard her story, he agreed to perform reconstructive surgery for free.
“She's come along nicely. We put in a tissue expander, put in an implant, we still have a couple more stages to go with her but she looks great,” Dr. Rose said.
Mendez says she feels great too! She agreed to share her story with us to show her family how good things come to those who persevere.
“Every day I pray and I said ‘God send me angel,’” Mendez said. “God hear me every day. Thank you so much, Dr. Rose.”
Mendez said she never pressed charges against the alleged abuser, she says she was concerned about the implications it would have on her children.
That can be a typical concern among victims, but that does not mean anyone has to be secretly scared. For anonymous help with an abuser, you can call this National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233.
A local agency that can help is called Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse: http://avda-tx.org/contact/249797.
However, it warns visitors to the site, “Computer use can be monitored and is impossible to completely clear.
If you are afraid that your internet or computer usage might be monitored, use a safer computer.”