Pink Warrior: Roxanna Guerra
Story by Liesel Schmidt | Photography by Jonathan Thorpe
Special thanks to Bowlero Arlington
Roxana Guerra may never hear the words “cancer free,” but she’s living in the moment—every moment—as someone who will always be in treatment to stay free of active disease.
Guerra was first diagnosed with breast cancer in December of 2015, with another diagnosis in February of 2016 with ERPR+HER2-LCIS stage 3C. Later that year, she was restaged to metastatic breast cancer (MBC). “When I first heard that I had breast cancer, I was in disbelief,” says Guerra, who was 41 at the time of her diagnosis. “Back then, I thought it was a genetics issue. Since I did not have a history in my family of someone with breast cancer, I never expected to hear those words spoken to me. It did not sink in right away that that was what I was diagnosed with.”
After her diagnosis, Guerra went through eight cycles of AC-Taxol chemotherapy, followed by radiation therapy. In November of 2016, after being restaged to MBC, she decided to have an oophorectomy to have her ovaries removed—which revealed the presence of a three-centimeter malignant tumor on her left ovary. She has been taking Ibrance along with Anastrozole since July 2017. Since removing her ovaries, she has been with no evidence of active disease for almost seven years.
“While I am not cancer free, the fact that I have no evidence of active disease means I will be in treatment forever,” Guerra says. “Every six months when I get my scans and get results of no evidence of active disease, that is more time. Every day is a blessing and a gift. I get to be present in my loved ones’ lives, especially my son's. So I celebrate life every day ... I see my life in a different set of lenses now that I am going through this battle.”
She goes on, “I appreciate the opportunity of waking up every day to continue this fight. I try not to stress about things as much as I used to prior to my disease. It's not worth it at the end. I try to keep smiling as much as I can and keep going.”
"Every day is a blessing and a gift. I get to be present in my loved ones’ lives, especially my son's. So I celebrate life every day ... I see my life in a different set of lenses now that I am going through this battle.”
Knowing the gift that she has been given to live—to thrive—each day that she has, Guerra feels the deep need to give others the blessing of what she has learned. “I have dedicated myself to breast cancer advocacy for Spanish-speaking women and men in my community throughout the DMV,” she says. “I attend a support group at Nueva Vida, [a] non-profit organization that serves Spanish-speaking women with cancer in the DMV, where I try to be their voice as a Spanish-speaking woman myself.”
She is also an alumni with LBBC's Hear My Voice program, 2021. “My area of expertise is in emotional support and peer referral to breast cancer resources available in Spanish as well as English,” Guerra notes. “I look forward to sharing my knowledge and experience with my community. My personal experience living with breast cancer is the reason I decided to not only advocate for myself, but for my Spanish-speaking community.”