After months of chemotherapy and weeks of radiation, Patricia Suarez embraces her beautifully cut, cropped hair and her slightly tanned skin on her chest with a big smile on her face.
Suarez is officially cancer free and starting up her own online fashion boutique. While shuffling through her new inventory of clothes and accessories, Suarez discusses her battle through cancer and the changes it has had on her, both positive and negative.
After undergoing numerous tests, Suarez was diagnosed with Classical Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in January of 2016. A short while after, she started her chemotherapy and her battle to get healthy again.
“My first thought when I found out was that I’m gonna die…” Suarez said, teary eyed yet still smiling. “I read the diagnosis on my phone, and I woke up in the middle of the night to check it and I just saw it. I didn’t know anything about it and thought the worst case scenario.”
Although it does not seem like it due to Suarez’s radiant energy and positivity, she did face some struggles throughout her battle against cancer. She had to stop working as a model to focus on her wellbeing, and could not do much physical exercise.
There were also a variety of foods she could not eat, and some activities she was not able to do because she was physically not up for it. The chemotherapy made her tired. She wanted to sleep all day. Suarez said she got through her days by binge-watching Netflix and sleeping.
Jaydah Smith, close friend of Suarez, started a gofundme page for her. She was confident Suarez would make it through the cancer, but knew the cost of treatment was building up.
“Throughout this whole thing, Patty never sat down and felt sorry for herself,” Smith said. “She basically always thought positive which made her feel positive.”
When Suarez told her friends about the cancer, they all told her they immediately thought of death. However, they said the same thing when asked about what reassured them into knowing she would be okay—her positive attitude and strong personality.
“I had a mixture of emotions when she told me,” Courtney Goodstein said, lifelong friend of Suarez. “I was sad, scared and really worried, but she’s one of the strongest people I know so I knew she would beat it.”
Even when talking about the whole chemo process, Suarez laughed through the detailed description of her experience. She would spend over two hours every time she went for treatment.
Although she was getting tough treatment, Suarez looked forward to the inclining heated chair, the massages and the food that were brought to her. She figured she might as well look at this whole situation as a positive experience.
“I was like trying to look forward to the little things like getting my hands and feet massaged,” Suarez said, laughing and joking around. “Like okay today I’m getting a little massage but also getting chemo at the same time. But it was fine.”
Suarez attended her last treatment of radiation two weeks ago, and is now cancer free. She worries it will come back, but she is more relieved than anything.
“I was just saying to my mom the other day how if Patty never told me she had cancer I wouldn’t have seen a change,” Hannah Tejera said, close friend to Suarez. “Patty never stopped living her life the way she wanted to, and that’s what really helped her.”
Now that Suarez does not have to worry about attending weekly doctors appointments, she is putting all her energy and focus towards opening up her own online fashion boutique. Her line is called “2Sided Clothing,” and she is hoping to launch by Oct. 1 of this year.
“I’m super stoked that she’s opening up her own business,” Goodstein said. “She used fashion to get her through the whole cancer process. To see her put her passion into something like this is great.”
Suarez is going to be selling clothing and accessories, both new and used. Her goal is to make the store the place where people can go in and get everything they need. She would like people to be able to get their whole wardrobe from one shop.
“I like to dress up and dress down as well,” Suarez said. “It’s usually difficult to find that in one store, so I wanna make it affordable and easy for people to shop.”
Surprisingly enough, her experience with battling cancer has actually influenced Suarez’s fashion trends and has led her to explore fashion from a different perspective. She loves her hair short, and is keeping it that style from now on. She is also selling head scarves in her store because she has grown to love them.
“I remember thinking one day oh my god my hair is gonna fall off,” Suarez said. “Now I love it like this. I also would’ve never worn head scarves if it wasn’t for the chemo, and now I love them.”
Suarez is now back into physical exercise, attending pilates, yoga, barre and boxing classes weekly. She feels herself getting stronger again, and feels good about how far she has come.
“I always feared cancer, like it was my worst fear,” Suarez said. “And now that I’ve conquered that, I feel like I can conquer anything. I feel like a stronger person and I’ve learned a lot about myself…like I’m stronger than I thought I was.”