Nine years after a “lump” appeared on her right breast that turned out to be “very aggressive” breast cancer, Hermi is counting down the days until she is discharged from Oncology next year. Her personal struggle, her activism on social networks, where each of her messages becomes viral, and above all her involvement in helping patients who suffer from this disease have made her a symbol, a beacon that shines when fear melts the mood lights.
“Now I am happy. When they tell you that in a year, if I continue as before, they will discharge me, that makes you smile from ear to ear. I never say that the war against cancer must be won, but rather that it must be defeated through battles. I’ve already won a few and that makes me extremely happy, ”Herminia Tacoronte, 49, told this newspaper that she has in her head – she confesses – many well-known people, family members included, who have stayed along the way.
Gone are those difficult days of chemotherapy in which physical and mental strength faltered, when her brother had to take her by weight to carry her to the bathroom or when she could not scratch her head because of the pain it caused. So he looked for the energy he needed by taking refuge in his family and, especially, in his nephew Antonio, who at the age of three would take the scarf from his head to call him “pretty.” Or looking to meet the sea, in the south of the island, to listen to Rosana’s songs while she let off steam writing her thoughts in a notebook.
Two years ago, in an interview with this newspaper, he left a headline that went viral on social networks and that has helped many people around the world: “I tell cancer patients to get angry, shout and cry, but never stop fighting. ” The newspaper clipping was even hung in a hospital waiting room. Today he reaffirms his vitalist message and recommends never asking ‘why me?’.
“It’s been a long time since I changed the ‘why’, which only serves to punish you, for the ‘why’. And the answer is: to help people. We have had to dance with the ugliest and we have no answer why. It’s your turn, period. No need to review it again. In my case, I am lucky to continue in this world, without the answer to why others are leaving while I continue ”. In his mind he keeps very present the phrase that he heard from the oncologist Ruth Afonso on the day of his first consultation: “In the fight that you are starting now, medicine is 50% and your attitude the other 50%.”
Hermi clung to that sentence and promised herself that she would not fail in the middle of the work she had to face. “I tell anyone who goes through this that cancer cannot defeat you because you stay in an armchair. That should not be allowed. You have to take time, I myself spent a week crying until I said enough. I accepted what he had and started calling him by his name ”.
Hermi is the coordinator of the activities organized by the Carrera por la Vida Foundation, chaired by Brigitte Gypen, another tireless fighter who has managed to defeat the disease and who has become one of the great activists in Spain against breast cancer. That task has taken Hermi to La Palma a few days ago to deliver special bras to women who have had their breast tissue removed and who have lost everything in the volcanic eruption. From there a baggage full of gratitude and affection has been brought.
“I treated six women who broke me inside. Some were newly operated, others had been treated for a longer time, all of them held my hand and said: ‘You are my angel, you are my guide, thank you for being there and not letting me walk alone.’ They are words that touch your soul and drive you to continue helping more people. They wiped my tears and encouraged me: ‘We have to continue’, they insisted ”. But he was also deeply impressed by the message of a young man who was sweeping the ashes of the volcano in the street. “Thank you for coming to La Palma to give my mother a smile,” he said. Days later, he is still excited to remember it.
Hermi is a grateful person who feels how the love she gives to whoever crosses her path returns to her from multiple fronts and in all possible ways. “Sometimes they call me crazy, but I think cancer has taught me to live, every minute, every second, the here and now; I do not make plans for tomorrow, I live in the moment and that is what gives me the strength and enthusiasm to move on “, he stresses, although he acknowledges that he also has” days of downturn in which I cry because of the bloody cancer. “
Today he takes every sip that life gives him, feeling the sea on his skin (one of his great passions), watching his nephews grow up, giving his mother all the love and expressing the love he feels for them every day. . “You should never miss a love for a person you really love from the heart”, he never tires of repeating.
But he also does not hide a certain disappointment because he believes that society, in general terms, has not finished learning the lesson of COVID-19. “I thought the pandemic was going to change us all. And it changed us while we were locked up, but it has not transformed the way we see life. We are still machines, looking only ahead, not realizing how many good things are on the side. We have to be more human and be aware that life is precious. Let’s not waste it on nonsense ”.