An early holiday gift
December 05, 2012
For one high school senior, early detection likely saved her life
Teton High School senior Carla Hernandez used early detection methods that resulted in her immediately identifying a tumor in her breast. She is back at school after surgery, encouraging others to use this simple practice. Photo by Jeannette Boner
Last Wednesday was like any typical evening at Teton High School. The girls’ varsity basketball team took to the court under a banner of cheers, whistles blowing and that familiar squeak of high tops on the waxed wooden floor.
But this evening would prove special for one student who rides the varsity bench, managing the team’s scores and stats. Carla Hernandez had just received an intangible gift that the students at Teton High School recognized through their one show of support.
It was a “pink-out,” a display of support for Hernandez, who had recently slam dunked a potentially life threatening medical diagnosis.
“I really appreciated them,” said the 17-year old Teton High School senior of those students who showed in pink. “Especially those kids that didn’t even know me.”
Hernandez had found a lump in her left breast only two months ago during a self-examination that would prove life saving for the oldest daughter of five siblings. The lump was sore and the size of a golf ball when she told her mother. A trip to Teton Valley Hospital sent her to specialists in Idaho Falls.
“It was scary,” said Hernandez on Tuesday of finding out that what she had was a fibrous tumor, non cancerous, but a condition that required surgery. “I’m glad it was just a tumor. I thought it was cancer.”
Still recovering from surgery two weeks ago that removed the 5.2 centimeter tumor, Hernandez understands that in the future she is at greater risk to develop cancer, but this does not dampen the spirits of the senior who is looking forward to all that lays ahead after graduation this spring.
“This makes me want to dream again,” Hernandez said of moving ahead of the diagnosis that abbreviated life for a time. “It also makes me want to encourage girls to check themselves at a young age. My mother encouraged me to check myself regularly.”
As a member of the high school mentoring program, VOICE, Hernandez said that in these last couple of months the encouragement that she received from students, family and high school staff was a source of strength for her. She is looking forward to carrying on that sense of support to others.
“Any problem has its solution,” she said.
Hernandez is looking forward to graduation in the spring and is hoping to be accepted to Idaho State University.
She will be the first in her immediate family to attend post secondary schooling and she is planning on studying cosmetology.
In the meantime, as the manager for the Lady Redskins basketball team, her immediate hope is that you attend a game and cheer the other girls on.
For more information on self-examination and breast exams: Teton Valley Hospital purchased a brand new digital mammography unit this past spring. TVHC also renovated the mammography suite to allow more comfort (radiant floor heating) and privacy for their patients. The local hospital continues to offer free basic mammograms for anyone who can’t afford one. For more info on the free mammo program, call the hospital financial counselor at 354-6317 ext. 183.