Meet the Models, New England: Heather Pardo

Heather Pardo resides in the southern most tip of Texas. It’s a community she is grateful everyday to be raising her three boys in: “McAllen, TX is a real family oriented, traditional Hispanic community. Love, food and taking care of each other is part of the every day, and when something happens, like breast cancer, it’s even more so.”

The community was paramount in providing support for Heather when her yearly mammogram revealed stage 2 breast cancer. A double mastectomy would reveal it had spread to her lymph nodes. Chemo, radiation and reconstruction would follow. She notes, “you never think it’s going to happen to you,” especially because she had no family history. When she did receive the news, she went into business mode: “there were two options- either I fight this, or I fight this.”

Throughout it all, her main priority were her three boys- ages 13, 9 and 7 at the time. She was very open with them throughout, sharing details and letting them see her scarring. Each child reacted different and Heather found it “interesting to see their different interpretations of it all.” It is Heather’s hope that the boys become advocates for women facing real life vs. what the internet can sometimes flood young boys with in terms of the perfect woman: “ultimately, they will know many more women who will get breast cancer due to sheer statistics and I hope they remain educated enough to advocate for those women no matter their age.”

Heather’s positivity about a breast cancer diagnosis during COVID is unique, but she notes that her entire goal of keeping family life unbothered was made a lot easier when they couldn’t go anywhere. While life today is flooded with school, activities, sports and more, during the pandemic, the family was at home in their PJ’s anyway. It was a secret blessing to the entire experience, even if it meant she had to face treatments all alone. In all, her experience with breast cancer “showed me how strong I could be beyond what I thought I could be.”