Great Expectations

Henry Mayo nurse and breast cancer survivor Felicia Lupu knows each day is a gift

Felicia Lupu’s breast cancer diagnosis in 2015 changed her life in ways she hadn’t expected. A nurse for more than 20 years—17 at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital—Lupu found a new perspective as a patient; she is now sharing her story to increase breast cancer awareness in the Santa Clarita Valley community.

“At Henry Mayo, I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside great physicians and wonderful nursing staff to take care of our 
patients, many of whom had cancer,” Lupu said. “Before my diagnosis, I was the surgical nurse working in the operating room, a volunteer parent of an athlete who never missed an event and, most importantly, an invincible mother and wife. That was all crushed. I became a woman facing cancer, a patient.”

Lupu found comfort in the care she received at the Sheila R. Veloz Breast Center. Her colleague and friend Mindy Burgess, RN, Breast Health Navigator, guided Lupu through the entire process.

Lupu’s surgeon met with her and explained the surgery and treatment options. She decided to get a bilateral mastectomy and breast reconstruction. Surgery was followed by six rounds of chemotherapy and then radiation.

“I’ll never forget what he told me,” Lupu recalled. “He said, ‘I will fight this for you, Felicia; we are your fighting team.’ I feel very fortunate to have such an incredible team involved in my care. Prior to my personal experience, I’ve been on the other side, working with physicians and seeing the differences they made in so many patients’ lives.” 
Lupu, mother to Natalia, 8, and John, 19, is grateful to the entire team of physicians and nurses who provided the best care during her treatment, and also for the tremendous support she received from her family, friends and colleagues.

“I’ve learned that every day is a gift, and we should start each day with a grateful heart,” she said. “Making a difference in someone’s life is what matters. I’ve learned to say I love you every day.”

For Lupu, her breast cancer experience was life-changing. In the past year, she has significantly altered her lifestyle, slowing down and not sweating the small stuff. She exercises more, watches what she eats and takes more time for herself.

“This experience changed my perspective on life,” she said. “I’m taking a little bit more time for myself. I’m a different person now.”
Lupu recalled her favorite inspirational quote from Carl Jung: “I am not what happened to me; I am what I choose to become.” 
Today, at age 45, Lupu is cancer-free and happy with life. IYH