Maria Glaze was a uterine cancer survivor, single mother of two high school boys and only 40 when she lost her job. It forced her to take a part time job with an extremely long commute. After her acceptance to culinary school, she was offered the job full time. Initially rejecting it, her supervisor convinced her to stay. Little did she know, after months of feeling extreme fatigue (which she thought was just due to her schedule), tests from the doctor would come back confirming stage 3 breast cancer.
Maria immediately entered treatment and her parents drove her to every chemo appointment: “They would wait in the car and in my entire life the only time I would see them cry was when they were in the car waiting for me.” The eldest of 9, Maria says her parents, both immigrants, are the “strongest people,” which is why it was even more devastating when her mother was diagnosed with cervical cancer while Maria was in treatment. Both not doing well, they entered hospice in the same home, but unfortunately Maria’s mother passed away. It was a devastating blow. For Maria, those months were horrible: “I was in such agony and in pain constantly and trying to be a present mother.”
Juggling treatment, a full time job, being a single mother and culinary school wasn’t easy, but Maria remained determined to achieve. She credits her incredible support system of friends and family who stepped up in her time of need. Most notably were her culinary school professors who traveled to the hospital, or her home so she could stay caught up and complete assignments. Maria graduated with a 4.0.
Some time out from treatment now, Maria is grateful for the continued support she feels from the breast cancer network, including from runway model Tanja, whom Maria calls one of her closest friends: “She’s made me a stronger woman. She has a way of lifting those up around her without them even noticing.” Support like that has helped Maria reflect on her breast cancer battle with grace: “at the end of the day, it made me have more confidence in myself and be a strong woman.”