From the Kitchen to the Heart: Andrea’s Journey of Cooking, Caring, and Courage Through Breast Cancer
“I have a lot of feeding left to do,” says Andrea, 41, a mother of four and a private caterer who honed her culinary skills in her grandmother’s kitchen, drawing inspiration from her rich Guyanese heritage—flavors of the Caribbean, infused with a unique food style all her own. But in October 2022, a sudden discovery changed the course of her life. “I felt a lymph node in my armpit’” she explains. “One day, a big lump suddenly appeared.”
Andrea immediately made an appointment with her primary care physician who referred her for a sonogram and mammogram. The results prompted a biopsy, followed by the shocking news of a breast cancer diagnosis, a disease that Andrea says runs in her father’s side of the family.
Scared of the unknown, Andrea sought treatment with New York Cancer & Blood Specialists at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital and met oncologist Dr. Joshua Harris. “Dr. Harris explained the entire process, outlining every step he intended to take,” she recalls. “I realized he knew what he was doing, and I had the confidence that he was the doctor who would be there to guide me through this journey.”
Andrea underwent 17 rounds of chemotherapy, experiencing symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, and hair loss. She says, “I felt like a boss when I cut my hair.”
In September 2023, Andrea underwent a double mastectomy and is currently on the road to healing. With 30 days of preventive radiation treatment on the horizon, she anticipates her return to the company she holds dear once she has made a full recovery.
Throughout it all, Andrea always remained optimistic. Even when she was terminated from her employer of eight years, and no longer had a source of income. “Every time I looked at my children, I’d think to myself, there’s no time to give up.”
Thanks to Andrea’s wonderful husband of 18 years and amazing support system, surrendering was never an option. “Dr. Harris and his team are great. All of the nurses, Nina, Roman and Ray,” she says.
“Throughout Andrea’s entire treatment, she always came in with a smile and rarely complained,” says her nurse, Nina. “We are so happy to see Andrea restored to the happy, positive, beautiful person that she is. We are so proud of her and all of our patients who are so strong and persevere.”
Additionally, the St. John’s ICARE Foundation extended a helping hand, providing valuable resources for her children, such as school supplies and gift cards.
“Cancer changes you. It pushed me in the right direction for a lot of things,” says Andrea. Now she looks forward to her new normal when she can go on a weekend getaway with her husband and get back to doing what she enjoys most. “I absolutely love cooking. I was born to do that.”