TAMPA - It has been less than 24 hours since our friend Linda Hurtado shared her biggest fear -- being diagnosed with breast cancer. In just that little time, her reason for bringing this journey public is already having an impact.
Those at the Breast Care Center at Florida Hospital, say they have already seen an increase in patients making appointments for mammograms.
Will Darnell, who heads public relations and who has worked with Linda for more than a decade, said it was her story that led people to action.
"I think it is definitely going to save more than one life. We always hear 'if we can only save that one life how powerful this would be.' Well who knows where this is going to end up in the future," Darnell said.
"Our phones are already ringing off the hook this morning at the Breast Care Center here at Florida Hospital in Tampa. It is by no accident. It's by people watching Linda last night, seeing it on the internet and hearing it from people and co-workers today."
Wednesday, Linda, did what she promised herself she would do if cancer invaded her body. She went in for a double mastectomy. A decision she made because her mother, Connie Yokum, died of breast cancer. (She made it out of surgery with no complications !)
Linda was in college when her mother was first diagnosed. Her mother never saw her marry wonderful husband Jorge or meet her four gorgeous daughters. Linda always told us she would take action for her health, because she misses her mother every single day.
An advocate for patients, Theresa Winsey, also of Florida Hospital, has been by Linda's side and knows her story. She went up to see Linda minutes before her surgery, and told her words that brought tears to both their eyes. "I wanted Linda to know that her mother is very proud of her and is looking down at her right now," Winsey said.
Winsey said Linda's decision to go public not only makes them proud, it helps build hope. Linda struggled on whether or not to share her diagnosis .
Winsey said Linda being out there and being in front of it has a great impact on our community and even internationally as people learn her story.
"There is no question and I just shared that with her before they took her in for surgery. There are women out there that she will touch that she does not even know about and she may never know about," Winsey said.
Darnell says it's ironic. Just two weeks ago, he and Linda were talking about breast cancer month (October) and what stories Linda should do to help women. Little did any of us know it would be her own story that would be the one that may have the most impact of all.
"I think she is doing the right thing, getting the word out there. She is one of the most decorated medical reporters in the country but she can still be a patient and now she is," Darnell said. "She is going to help a lot of people. It speaks to Linda's character and the genuine nature to do what she did. It's amazing."
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