Andrea Andrade

Age: Adult
Association: Survivor
Region: California
Cancer: Colon

"I was crazy for trying to participate in something that revolves around beauty, given I had lost half of my hair, couldn't walk right and had a chemo pipe running through my veins, but I was determined."

In late February of 2017, we received a phone call from Mexico saying my aunt had passed away from cancer. My grandma and I packed our things and flew out to the funeral the next day. About two days of being in Mexico, I started feeling a lot of pain and we had to call a doctor. He ended up leaving me in the hospital overnight to keep an eye on me. At about 4 a.m. that night, I woke up to use the restroom and when I pulled my pants down I heard a huge splat. I looked down and the toilet was full of really dark red blood. I remember being told I needed a blood transfusion because I had lost about 3 pints of blood. The doctors in Mexico called my parents and told them they needed to come to Mexico because I wasn’t going to make it past that night. I ended up getting a blood transfusion.

Fast forward through three colonoscopies and an endoscopy later, I was diagnosed with cancer. My parents decided to bring me back to the states where I was admitted to the hospital. I was in the hospital for two weeks and had colorectal surgery, treatment for bacteria in my blood and have my heart constantly monitored because i was allergic to every medication. When I was released, I had to go home with a picc line and in-home care nurse.

I honestly thought I had beat cancer when I received a phone call saying I needed six months of chemotherapy. I was about three months into my chemo treatment when I participated in one of the toughest beauty pageants in the nation! I was crazy for trying to participate in something that revolves around beauty, given I had lost half of my hair, couldn’t walk right and had a chemo pipe running through my veins, but I was determined. I knew I wouldn’t win, I had no chance. I ended up bringing home the Miss Congeniality award. Afterwards, I had so many pageant directors reach out wanting me in their pageant. I did about four more and I currently have a total of four titles in the same year! I have completed over 250 hours of community service hours in less than a year, keeping my full time job as marketing coordinator, doing public speaking events, volunteering at the cancer center and working on ways to continue to advocate. My aunt once said, “God gives his toughest battles to his strongest warriors.” That phrase helped me get through my hardships, it is now engraved in the chemo bell I donated to the cancer center, letting everyone who rings that survivor bell know that we DID IT!