Skip to nav Skip to content
Lisa, wife and Yolanda, a Stomach Cancer Survivor

Meet Yolanda

Stomach Cancer Survivor

"All my friends here in Tampa and family members in Puerto Rico prayed for me and that's what made me go. That's what made me live"

In 2005, Yolanda was working as a chef at a hospital in Tampa when she became very sick. When doctors at the hospital determined it was stomach cancer, it was already too late for chemotherapy or radiation.

Yolanda decided to go to Moffitt Cancer Center for a second opinion on her treatment options. Unfortunately, due to the cancer, her stomach, pancreas and liver would need to be removed to address the tumors. Recovery wouldn’t be easy.

But Yolanda believed in her Moffitt team, from her doctors and nurses to the specialists who helped with her pain management.

“Moffitt is wonderful,” Yolanda says. “When you walk into the facility, everybody always says hello, always with a smile on their face. And they know what you’ve been through.”

Yolanda was originally given three years to live. Now, more than a decade later, she attributes her survival to a support system that includes two amazing people: Cathy, a lifelong friend she met in high school, and her wife Lisa.

The three refer to themselves as “the warriors.” That’s because both Cathy and Lisa have also been facing health issues of their own, including cancer. While Lisa helps Yolanda with her medications, Yolanda helps Lisa with her disease, lupus. And Cathy visits when she can, checking in frequently and offering care and comfort to both.

“We may not see each other all the time, but when we meet up it’s like it was yesterday,” Yolanda says. “She’s always been there for me and Lisa.”

Despite all their struggles, these three close friends help each other to find the courage to keep going.

Yolanda reflects that courage. “I’m a survivor and my wife’s a survivor,” she says. “Cathy is a survivor. We have a lot of other friends that are survivors also. Too many to remember their names—but we’re making it.”