Badass Mom Wears Costumes to Empower Herself During Cancer Treatments (PHOTOS)

mother and sonAngelica Escareno was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer when she was 37 years old. Angie has no family history of breast cancer, but she felt a lump in her breast and got the unexpected diagnosis. With her then 7-year-old son and her rock of a husband by her side, Angie decided to empower herself and fight it like a warrior ... in a costume and hot-pink wig. Themo-therapy (dressing in a theme for chemo) was her way of making the best of a bad situation.


I've known Angie for about seven years now. She has always been that person you can easily talk to, joke with, and count on to be there to help you with advice or anything you need. A true friend. I knew that she was survivor, but the way she survived this was beyond inspiring. She was happy to share her story with others in the hopes of inspiring others as well.

The StirWhat were your feelings when you were first diagnosed? How did you talk to your husband Fern about it? How did you tell your son Ivan?

Angelica Escareno: I felt a lump in my breast for some time before finally going in to get checked. When I got the call from the doctor saying it was cancer, the first thing I felt was guilt … then anger. Anger at myself for letting it go for so long. Guilty for putting myself in this situation. I was told on a Friday and cried … a lot. I hugged Ivan. A lot more than usual. I kept it to myself because Saturday was a big baseball day for Ivan, and I didn’t want that to cloud anything. When I finally did tell Fern, I was a little more composed and matter-of-fact about it. He took it well, like my rock that he is, and assured me we’d get through it together.

Talking to Ivan was also fairly easy. He’s my old soul, he gets this kind of stuff. I didn’t present it as a big scary illness that would possibly kill Mom, but as a little bump in the road in Mom’s health, nothing some strong medicine couldn’t get rid of. We did tell him it was cancer so any time he’d hear the word he thought of me and my journey. 

The StirTell me about themo-therapy.  

AE: One of my chemo buddies told me about it. I started chemo on March 13. I was sitting there, waiting for my infusion, when I see this big, green ball of beautiful energy come in to the room. It was her -- Shannon. She had a green wig, green sparkle stickers on her cheek, and a great big beautiful smile. I saw her and immediately thought, I want a piece of this action! We struck up a conversation, she filled me in on themo, and I was on board and in full costume for my next infusion. 

The Stir: All your costumes had meaning behind them: the "Poof, Cancer-Be-Gone Fairy"; the Boxer, kicking cancer's butt; your '70s "Stayin' Alive" getup; and Star Wars–themed "The Force" you and Ivan used to beat cancer. But how did themo help you? 

AE: While I always pride myself in being a positive, upbeat person, cancer/chemo is no joke. Chemo wipes you, drains you of all your energy. Doing something like themo helps put a little fun in an otherwise depressing time. Talk about making the best out of a bad situation: I got to costume up and have fun, all while battling this nasty illness. 

The Stir: Did many participate in themo-therapy?

AE: Not really … some of the ladies were a bit older and perhaps not as interested. I did buy a few pink ribbon necklaces and bracelets to hand out and they wore them to all their infusions. That made me super happy.

The Stir: Tell me about getting Ivan involved while you were dressing up. 

AE: Ivan was my little buddy throughout this ordeal. I’d explain to him what I was doing, and he’d be excited to help me put my outfits together. He couldn’t come with me, but he always made sure I showed him my costume for the day and [would] even take a picture with me.

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The Stir
 What kind of friendships did you make with other women battling cancer?  

AE: I met some great people in the chemo room. One particular lady was very reserved, kept to herself. Even covered her head with her blanket while the rest of us laughed, joked, and just tried to have a good time. Two or three visits in, I think we broke her. She started joining our conversations, making jokes, and I saw her crack a smile or two. It was really cool to see the transformation. 

The StirWhat was your favorite themo costume and how did it empower you?

AE: My favorite one was what I wore to my last infusion; I dressed as an airline attendant. I was saying GOOD-BYE to chemo, getting me one step closer to being done with this whole cancer thing.

The StirI love your Straight Outta Chemo cake, too. What's happening now for you health-wise?  

AE: I’m done with chemo and am taking Tamoxifen for the next five years. I’m also going in for Herceptin infusion once every three weeks. I’m waiting on approval from the insurance to get my reconstructive surgery done. I feel great!

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The StirWhat advice would you give other women or yourself if you could upon first being diagnosed? 

AE: It’s okay to cry! Get it all out there, take one good day to have all your feelings consume you. Then, suck it up, buttercup! I don’t want to sound mean but ... get over it. Move on. The diagnosis has been made. You can brave the storm and confront cancer like the G-damn warrior you are or you can wither like a delicate, wussy little flower and let it consume you. You’re too much of a badass to let cancer control you.

Thank you, Angie. You inspire us all more than you know.


Images courtesy of Angelica Escareno

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