Dr. Ana Maria Polo a very successful Latina, host of the Telemundo Court show “Caso Cerrado” shares her story as a breast cancer survivor. This inspiring Latina with her simplicity, charisma, and objectivity is recognized as one of the most prestigious personalities in Hispanic television inside and outside the United States. She is a resilient woman who beat breast cancer and is a survivor for many years now. Polo, has devoted her time to many organizations that help women who suffer from this disease. In 2011, she was awarded the first Hispanic spokesperson for the organization Unidos Contra el Cancer, better known as Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C). Ana Maria is in the list of national and international celebrities who are supporting the initiative to raise awareness as well funding to advance collaborative cancer research. Many do not know that this talented host had breast cancer and I had the pleasure of interviewing her and hearing her inspiring story.
Chica Fresh: When you were diagnosed with breast cancer what stage were you in?
Dra. Ana Maria Polo: I was in stage 2 intraductal breast cancer on my right breast. My tumor was 2.5 centimeters and lucky I found it myself. My detection was early thank God and that is because I do my monthly exams. Luckily, I was able to find it in time. Nonetheless, I had to go through a bisectomy and had 20 lymph nodes removed they were all clean but I had to go through a very difficult situation and circumstances. The good thing is that this happened 11 years ago.
CF: I am sure this was a very difficult time for you and very hard situation to deal with.What was your initial reaction when you were diagnosed?
AP: My diagnosis was very unexpected to me because cancer was not an illness typical in my family. My family has more of a coronary disease situation and heart problems.So, when I heard the word cancer my legs started to tremble because it was very unexpected. I was in the middle of life, life was happening to me in a very dynamic way. I was in the show “Salas de Pareja” at the time everything was going fine and all of a sudden I hear this word “cancer” and I thought to myself omg, what is going to happen now? I never thought death though that word was never in my vocabulary. What I thought was Omg, I am in the middle of everything that’s happening to me. I am doing something that I love, I respect my work and I think is so important that I am able to talk to so many people in areas that are important to me. For example, people in human rights, order, justice, talents and all of a sudden I have to deal with something that is very important, my health, my life. I just allowed God to take over. I thought you know I am going to do whatever I have to do and I am going to remain positive.
CF: How did this impact your career?
AP: I shared the news with everybody in my team. I received the news that I had breast cancer while I was recording and everybody in my team was very sad. All of them were crying. I took over and said you know we are going to get through this let’s get together and pray a little bit and we will get through this. Because with cancer you have no symptoms it allows you to move on and your mind has to be very strong very decisive and you have to tell yourself I am going to live and I am going to do everything that is within my power to live. Because I love life and that’s what I did. I prayed with my team I continued working. The, 20 days later I went through with the vasectomy and right after I took the cancer off I went on a long vacation. I went to Alaska because I needed to prove to myself that i was capable of moving on and capable of activity. B
CF: I am sure you had many supporters during that time. However, is there someone in particular who was always there to comfort you from the moment you found out?
AP: Yes I did have a friend that was there for me all the time. But, I have to tell you that this is not about one person this is about you. This is about how you take it because you know people are there but it doesn’t matter who is there you need to be strong inside. You need to be convinced in your soul and mind that you are going to get through this. Other patients were very helpful. I would talk to really young girls full of hope and desire as well as others who were depressed. Every interaction with other patients was very rewarding. Faith is also so important to have faith and to want to live.The people who give up are the people who lose.
CF: I know throughout the years you have dedicated yourself to helping many women who are battling breast cancer. Can you share some of those organizations that you have worked with? and as a survivor how has being able to contribute impacted your life.
AP: I have worked very closely with the Susan Komen Foundation, also the St.Jude Hospital which to me is a miraculous place due to the work they do with children. I am also very proud to work with Stand Up To Cancer is a miraculous organization, they are dedicated to the investigation of cures and treatments. Whatever, they investigate or discover they bring it to the table to the patient as quickly as possible. I have worked with La Liga Contra El Cancer on a local basis here in Miami and they do fabulous work, help people who have no funds or no insurance. When you go through a catastrophic illness like cancer there is nothing more rewarding than getting involved and helping out and contributing to finding a solution a cure for the illness. It’s just a rewarding thing and see people going through the process and being able to say you know what this will pass. Just relax, breathe, pray, surround yourself with positive people, investigate and get involved and this too shall pass in life. You have to help because this is what gives life meaning.
CF: Any advice you want to share with all those women who are currently battling breast cancer?
AP: Yes, first keep busy! When you have this illness you have to keep busy and involve yourself in some activity. If your physical body allows it get involved in something and don’t stay at home thinking and crying. Second, investigate learn as much as you can. Cancer comes in many different ways and levels so it’s important to investigate what are the best treatments for you. I personally refused chemotherapy. I didn’t want chemotherapy instead I took my ovaries out and did amoxicillin for five years but you have to investigate what is best for you. Three, surround yourself with good people, people who are happy and positive. People who are inspiring and talk to other patients and see what they went through and don’t be afraid although it’s easier said than done. But breathe, give yourself the opportunity to wake up everyday and put your feet on the floor, you stretch, you thank God and you do your things and you will see how fear dissipates Every little step counts and I think with that in mind people can look forward and say I am going to beat this cancer. I am going to beat this cancer and live as long as god wants me to live. Cancer also makes you face death and death is not as bad as people make it to be. This is a natural process of life and we need to start seeing it as a positive thing as well because this is the time we face our maker. There is a lesson in everything we live in life we need to take it, extract it and put it into action and more along with happiness.
CF: Any last words you want to share with Chica Fresh readers?
AP: I am very proud to be a Latina and proud of were latinas are standing nowadays in this world. It is obvious that we are a force to be dealt with and that we are creative people. We enrich this country with our roots and our culture and our way of being and that we form a part of the fabric of the population of the United States of America. I just want to tell Latinas move on, do what we do and do it with pride because we are fabulous! As a reminder as of November 3rd you can watch me an hour earlier. Do not miss Dra.Polo at 3pm and again at 5pm on the new schedule.