Symposium Patient Advocate Program. During a presentation on Tamoxifen, results showed that survivors had a better chance of living longer if they went from 5 years to 10 years of hormone therapy. At this point, Sandy knew that if Johanna had been there with her, she would still be alive today. “I had attended Johanna’s 5 year Pink-Aversay (that is what we call the day we are diagnosed and the 5 year mark is pivotal) and this is when she had decided to change her medication from an aromatase inhibitor that she had been on for 5 years to Tamoxifen, but the cancer had already advanced.” As a Patient Advocate, Castillo had to get the information from researchers to the patients faster because it could save their lives. “Many of our doctors do not even attend the San Antonio Breast Cancer, the American Society of Clinical Oncology or the American Association of Cancer Research Symposia and they are treating new patients every day.” Castillo continues to bridge and connect through research,
“FINALLY, I REALIZED I HAD TO TAKE CARE OF MYSELF AND NOTHING ELSE MATTERED. MY DOCTOR SAID TO GIVE HIM 9 MONTHS AND HE WILL GIVE ME MY LIFE BACK. AND THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT I DID.” legislative and patient advocacy and what she calls the “Trifecta Effect”. Her intention is to share the variety of nonprofit educational and retreat scholarships available to survivors because they can continue to help the survivor through their own pathway to recovery and healing. “I started by becoming a CanCare volunteer because I wanted to brighten the day for every patient in the infusion center. Each person’s cancer experience is completely their own and each one is different. But I get to contact new survivors who are like me so that I can help them through the process.” CanCare is a local nonprofit which offers a weekend of training scheduled throughout the year so that you can become a part of their database of survivors to connect with those calling in as newly diagnosed. “I talk to my girls but we typically meet for a lovely lunch so we can get to know each other better. Together we find our cancer diagnosis empowering.” Young Survival Coalition (YSC) is a National nonprofit that supports young women affected by breast cancer. As a State Leader, Castillo lobbies legislatively on behalf of survivors in Texas and in 2013 testified in support of governance for Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT). In addition to this, during the NBCC Advocate Summit, Castillo leads and recruits others to join her as they lobby in Washington DC in support of the End of Breast Cancer Act. As a Face to Face Survivor Social Group leader, Castillo hosts a monthly group in the Medical Center while recruiting others to launch their own F2F in the Heights and Sugarland. They are all working together
to host the first YSC Summit to be held in Houston in March of 2015. The Breast Health Collaborative of Texas is a local nonprofit in Houston promoting cross-pollination between all of the services so that they can work together. In January 2015, Castillo is scheduled to host a lunch and learn to share all the programs YSC has to offer including the upcoming Summit with those in Texas. “Our goal is to make sure nobody misses out! We want to show our Texas Pride and have a great response from all of our local nonprofits, survivors and caregivers.” Having also served on the Corporate Fundraising Committee for the annual Susan G Komen Run, Castillo was inducted as an Advocate in Science through the National Office in 2013. To date, there are only 165 women within North America and currently the Komen Grants require an Advocate to be on the team to serve as the local connection providing insight and leadership so that funding is beneficial to the community. Castillo explains how the Alamo Breast Cancer Foundation started alongside the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium to provide a program for the patients that were attending. Today the program provides funding for survivors and caregivers from all over the globe so that they can take the information back to their communities and help disseminate the latest research to those in treatment and beyond. “We all want cures for cancer in general. Being a Research Advocate, I know all too well, the details and specificity required for funding and each person’s cancer is completely different than the next person.
Together we need to focus on cancer, because as a Trifecta, our voices have more weight and our effect has a magnitude that cannot be measured.” At the end of 2013, Castillo was recruited to work as the Brand Coordinator for the Katy Area Economic Development council. Currently, she is focused on teaching classes that promote healing in the form of Conscious Yoga and Goddess Retreats, while looking for new cancer specific nonprofit clients for development consultant work and deciding which symposia are a priority. Looking ahead, the future looks brighter for all of us because Castillo is on a mission to help others. As she launches local classes, retreats and cultural trips to promote healing, she will also work within healthcare providing solutions to business needs focused on patients, especially those with cancer. And it gets even brighter; Castillo wants to launch a nonprofit Foundation to build a Healing Home in Houston that provides classes for those in cancer treatment on nutrition, exercise, meditation, art, research, legislative and patient advocacy.
For more information, please visit SandyMCastillo.org for the Flittercake Blog, List of Cancer Scholarship Resources, and how to stay engaged with Social Media. Contact Sandy directly at 713.232.9796 or email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @ sandycastillo. SEPTEMBER.OCTOBER 2014 / NSIDE TEXAS MD