JEROME, Idaho — Rosa Paiz is a notable figure in Jerome where she owns the local restaurant, El Sombrero.
Six years ago Rosa, was diagnosed with breast cancer, and following her battle, she was motivated to raise awareness about the topic and help other families in her community facing the disease.
It first started when Rosa could tell something was wrong with her body. She waited a week before going to the doctor's office for a checkup. Despite cancer not being in her family's history and doctors telling her they could not feel anything, she was adamant something was not right.
The doctor gave her a mammogram which did not reveal any sort of cancer. Rosa said she then received an ultrasound which confirmed her suspicions.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer and her fight against the disease began.
“It’s a rude awakening for you to think that you actually have cancer," said Paiz. "You hear about cancer everywhere, among your friends, employees, and your guests that come to the restaurant. You hear the word, 'cancer, cancer, cancer,' and you’re saying to yourself, 'it can’t be happening to me.'”
Rosa underwent a double mastectomy and has been cancer-free since.
Now, Rosa is taking her experience and working to raise awareness to help other women and their families going through this struggle.
“When they do get it, they call you and ask you for advice to help them," said Paiz. "I say, 'the only thing I can tell you is to get that checked, and then we’ll start with the next process, the next step, and if you need help I’m here for you, to guide you.'”
Rosa hosts benefits and seminars at her restaurant where she always reinforces the point to get checked regularly and listen to your body, especially since doctors told her how lucky she was that she managed to identify this abnormality on her own so early.
Rosa also serves as a support system for women and their families fighting cancer. While she loves being to help people, Rosa has been in tough situations, speaking with some people where cancer has spread so much, she tells them to prepare themselves.
Even when having those difficult discussions, Rosa tries to remain as positive as possible and offer support and comfort in the best way she can.
“We don’t even know if we’re going to be here tomorrow," said Paiz. "I tell my friends that and I tell people that I talk to all the time, we don’t know if there is going to be a tomorrow, but there is today. Let's take care of today.”
As Rosa continues to raise more awareness and help others in her community, St. Luke's Magic Valley officials are glad there is someone outside of the doctor's office supporting others.
“Advocates like Rosa, to be out there and telling the women in the community, and I know she is very strong about that and tries to let everybody know how important it is," said Brent Evans, the Director of Planned Giving at St. Luke’s Magic Valley Health Foundation. "I think she’s helped out a lot of women in that capacity.”
Since it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, St. Luke's officials also wanted to remind and encourage people to donate to their health foundation. The funds are used to help both women and men fighting breast cancer.
“If they can’t afford to get it done or they don’t have insurance, we have assistance for them to get the mammogram," said Evans. "Then, after the fact, we have assistance for them if they’re going through treatment and other things of that nature.”
If anyone would like to make a donation, you can reach out to the St. Luke's Magic Valley Health Foundation by calling 208-814-0070.