Breast cancer diagnosis changes business owner’s perception
Looks have been a big part of Laurie Ramos’s world.
Her world included bikini contests and working at Hooters when she was younger. She said she was ashamed to admit that one of her biggest fears was losing her hair when she first found out she had breast cancer the day before Thanksgiving. But she quickly realized that what she would be losing are the “simple things in your life like mascara and curling irons.”
“You get to keep all the important things -- family and God and your friends,” said Ramos, who recently lost her hair two weeks into her treatment. “I’ve had to tap into my inner beauty instead of my outer beauty.” Ramos, 43, who with her husband, Martin, owns and operates Kona Skate Park in Arlington, is going through chemotherapy at Baptist Medical Center Beaches. She found a lump during a self-breast exam and then had a mammogram and sonogram at the Hill Breast Center and later a biopsy. Buddy Check 12, a partnership with First Coast News and Baptist Health, also inspired her to do self-breast checks after seeing women her own age featured with breast cancer.
“I’m just trying to be an advocate. I feel some people feel it can’t be this early or this age,” Ramos said. Every part of her journey, she said, has included Baptist Beaches from her surgeon to her oncologist. She’s sees Beaches as her community hospital after taken kids for broken arms to the emergency room and her husband who was in a motorcycle accident.
A Baptist Beaches breast care coordinator, who she calls “a saint on her shoulder,” has also been there every step of the way helping her make her appointments. Ramos has had a double mastectomy and is undergoing reconstruction. At her chemo treatments, she’s wearing a Superwoman T-shirt from her husband.
“We are tapping into my inner human superpowers,” she laughed. She also has a group of girlfriends who started a “Team Laurie” site of friends to show support. Her two daughters’ school, St. Paul’s Catholic School in Jacksonville Beach, has also been helpful. Students at Flagler College are showing their support where her 19-year-old daughter, Cassidy, attends. Some of the girls are wearing pink hair and boys are wearing a pink dot.
“The kindness is just overwhelming. I’m used to being the caretaker. This is definitely a role reversal,” said Ramos, who also does charity work.
She’s the first patient to receive a special backpack to help her through chemotherapy treatment. Baptist Health and First Coast News are partnering with cancer survivors Lucy Gross-Barlow and Sharon Crews to provide newly-diagnosed women who receive chemo treatment in our community with a free Got Your Back Pax and My Chemo Cocktail & Me 5-in-1 treatment guide. The program at Baptist, which officially kicked off in March, is being funded in part by Baptist Health, Buddy Check donors and First Coast News.
Her 7-year-old daughter helped her charge the MP3 player, one of the items in the Back Pax that has custom-guided imagery.
“The music is fabulous. We sat there and listened to it and we were all giggling last night. They love the blanket and tested the lemon drops,” Ramos said. Lemon drops help curb the taste from harsh medicines. She also said the medication chart in the book to help keep track of her medications “is a huge help.”
The gift is helping her and her family as she faces the weeks ahead. She’s also planning to continue with charity events she hosts including a Kona Ladies Shopping Social in the summer where about 15 women sell various goods. This year she hopes the event will raise money for a breast cancer group or possibly to buy more backpacks for patients.
Her advice to other women newly-diagnosed with breast cancer is “don’t let your imagination run wild. Take it day by day. You literally have to take each procedure as it comes.”
Learn how to request a Back Pax in the news release
Make a donation to help with additional Back Pax
Watch How to get a free Buddy Check Backpack full of goodies on First Coast News