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Weslinne’s Story: Diagnosed With Breast Cancer During COVID-19
Weslinne Cespedes
October 14, 2020

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Weslinne Cespedes, who lives in Brooklyn, was diagnosed with stage III triple-negative breast cancer at age 30 in March of this year, just as New York City was deciding when and what to shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Listen to the podcast to hear Weslinne talk about:

  • how finding a lump in her breast led to her diagnosis
  • how the COVID-19 pandemic added to the stress of cancer treatment
  • how she started chemotherapy and planned her wedding during the pandemic
  • how she feels the diagnosis changed her
  • what she wants people to know

Running time: 39:38

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Show Full Transcript

Jamie DePolo: Hello, thanks for listening. Our guest today is Weslinne Cespedes of Brooklyn, New York. She was diagnosed with stage III triple-negative breast cancer at age 30 in March of this year, just as New York City was deciding when and what to shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Weslinne joins us today to talk about her journey through breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Weslinne, welcome to the podcast.

Weslinne Cespedes: Hi. Thank you for having me, Jamie.

Jamie DePolo: It's such an honor to talk to you. So, if you don’t mind, could you take us back to your diagnosis. What led to it? Were you having symptoms? Do you have a history of breast cancer in your family?

Weslinne Cespedes: That’s the crazy thing. No history of breast cancer that I know of. They did the genetic testing, and it came back negative.

So, back in February, 2020, I just felt a lump. I felt a lump out of nowhere. And I was having conversations at that time with my co-workers, like, “Oh, I feel this lump,” and they were like, “Oh, it might be nothing. It might just be a cyst.” Even with one of my close friends, she was like, “Yeah, I had a cyst, they just had to drain it.”

I work in a middle school, so I was thinking, “Okay, in early March, I have a day off from work. I'm going to go to the gynecologist and just check it out.” I went, and they referred me to a Brooklyn hospital for a breast biopsy, and that’s when I found out that it came positive for malignant cells. That was in the middle of March, they said that “you have breast cancer.”

And when I went to the Brooklyn hospital for the biopsy, that’s when they told me it was triple-negative, stage III, and at that same time was when schools were closing. My principal had told the middle school team, “Hey, get ready. We might be closing soon due to the COVID-19.” And so, I'm just preparing for that, but also, my world is going crazy because this is happening on top of a pandemic.

It was a lot to process in that March. I remember when I went to the gynecologist and she called me and she was like, “Come in. I need to tell you your results.” At the time, my coworkers, they kind of knew. They said that their results were said over the phone, like, “Oh, it's just a cyst,” but for them, they were like, “Oh, she has to go in.” And I will always remember that. My husband, then fiancé, but my husband was waiting for me in the car. And I basically went in, masked, the gynecologist told me, “Hey, it looks like it's cancer.” I'm just, tears in my eyes. And you could see that she wanted to give me a hug, but couldn’t. Social distancing. It was such an emotional moment, but you know, no one could be there with me. And I look back on it, and I'm like, “wow.”

Jamie DePolo: Yeah. That’s pretty incredible. Did you kind of have to sit there for at least a few minutes before you could go back outside and talk to your husband?

Weslinne Cespedes: I did. I sat there. But it was quick though, because it was just like, I'm in this space. You don’t know about the virus, how to catch it, what's going on with it. So, it was kind of like, okay. I'm getting this information. I'm crying, tears are going inside my mask, and I'm like, “Okay.” And she's like, “I'm referring you to this Brooklyn hospital for more follow-up care and treatment,” and it was just a quick — go.

And I know, pre-COVID, it wouldn't have happened like that. I would have had my husband with me inside the office. The doctor would have hugged me. All this kind of stuff. And it was just a lot of social distancing. Everyone in masks.

Jamie DePolo: Definitely a very strange situation. Now, COVID was going on when you were diagnosed, kind of just really getting rolling, but you were also planning your wedding. This is kind of like a swirling vortex of very stressful things that are going on. So, I guess I kind of want to talk about the pandemic first. Do you feel like it affected any of your treatment options, or your care, in any way?

Weslinne Cespedes: So, even though I was referred to the Brooklyn hospital, I ended up having my chemotherapy and all the remaining of my care at Mount Sinai in Manhattan. And the reason for that is because March and April, just watching the news, the five boroughs, specifically Brooklyn — and I live in Brooklyn — Brooklyn and Queens were being portrayed as just major hot spots. And that was one of the decisions, like, I'm not going to seek out chemotherapy at the Brooklyn hospital. I'm going to get a second opinion at Mount Sinai.

Also, my husband, as this is going on, he's like, can he tell his best friend about everything that I'm going through with the diagnosis. And I said, “Sure, you're going to need that support.” And him telling his best friend, he told his wife. His wife works at Mount Sinai and was able to be at my appointment and visit me during treatment.

And that kind of is the loophole that I realized in all this, because with chemotherapy and going into the Dubin Breast Center, the policy is no visitors because of COVID, right? And so, I managed to have four women that I know work at Dubin Breast Center and Mount Sinai, and they were able to visit me during my treatment. So, it made the experience not feel as much lonely.

Jamie DePolo: Oh, wow. That’s pretty crazy, that you would know four people that worked there. And did you know that before you decided to go to Mount Sinai for treatment?

Weslinne Cespedes: I didn't. I didn't. His wife got on the phone with me and was like, “You are going to see Dr. Port. She is amazing. Alright? I'm going to be with you.”

It was such a difference in the Brooklyn hospital that I went to, and they're telling me the course of action with my triple-negative breast cancer is chemotherapy then surgery, and my husband is on the phone, but he's actually in the car, but he can't come in. And with Mount Sinai, I was able to have my friend Jennifer, the wife, come in with me to meet with Dr. Port. She was there to just hold my hand. And I'll have more to say about that, but it was just a blessing to just have these women that work at Mount Sinai, in different aspects, to visit me during my treatment, when I have appointments, things like that. Because you know, I couldn’t bring my family. I couldn’t bring my other friends.

Jamie DePolo: I know a lot of people talked about how they really felt like they couldn’t maintain their support system, but it sounds like you might have been able to maintain it a little bit.

Weslinne Cespedes: Yes. Definitely. Like, in the beginning, my bridal party. So, we're planning a wedding, right? My husband proposed to me in Central Park, October 2019, right? And being stressed with planning a wedding and then now being diagnosed with breast cancer, and all you hear is, “You can't be around people. You have to social distance. You have to isolate.”

And it was hard because my bridal party are nine women that I've grown up with, that have known me from different life experiences, and they can't support me the way they could at this time. But the way they did was they sent me care packages. We had a virtual bridal party.

One of my friends, she lived by herself, her family is down in Texas. She actually was able to take me to my first four rounds of chemotherapy, because my husband was still working at home, and I needed someone to just drive me, and so she drove me. I stayed for my chemotherapy treatments, she waited, either sometimes 3 hours or 5 hours, and drove me back home. And she's like, “I don’t have anyone living at home with me except for my dog, so I'm the perfect person to take you.”

And I have another friend who... [so] after a while, Uber rides get expensive, going in and out the city from Brooklyn. So she signed me up for Access-A-Ride, and Access-A-Ride, they no longer do share rides. It's a private car that will come pick you up, and it's funded by CancerCare, so she found out that information, filled it out for me.

It was just a lot of different support. There was another friend who bought me — they all did, they all chipped in and bought me a humidifier. That really helped when I had chemotherapy symptoms like nosebleeds. I didn’t even know I needed a humidifier for a nosebleed.

She gave me that, and they all gifted my husband with a massage chair.

Jamie DePolo: Oh, wow. That’s amazing.

Weslinne Cespedes: So they did what they can, virtually and just through the mail, and sending me stuff and just encouraging me. And my mom. My mom is the biggest support of all.

Jamie DePolo: And she lives close?

Weslinne Cespedes: She lives close by and constantly was making soups. All types of soups to send my way.

Jamie DePolo: Oh, that’s so sweet. Were you concerned at all… so, you know chemotherapy does knock back your immune system. What steps did you take during the pandemic, and are you continuing to take them?

Weslinne Cespedes: I listened to the guidelines set by the CDC and Dr. Fauci. I'm going to put it out there! So, I remember March, April, May, I definitely was big on the N95 masks, like, “I'm now immunocompromised. I don’t want to catch anything.” But now, I just go outside with a regular mask. So, that’s how tired I am of wearing masks. But I always ensure that I have my hand sanitizer, my mask, I'm washing my hands, and that’s pretty much it.

And social distancing. I'm like, if I don’t know you, we're going to maintain the 6 feet. And that’s what I did during chemotherapy, during appointments that I have to go to, that’s what I continue to do. And when I am in either Uber or an Access-A-Ride, I tell them to roll down the windows.

Jamie DePolo: Okay. Makes sense. Makes sense. So, I also want to talk about your wedding. Because you are married now, so I feel like you're superwoman, that you did all of these things in the middle of a pandemic.

Weslinne Cespedes: It was a lot. Like I look back, and I'm like, is this my life? I'm just a regular girl from Brooklyn. So, yeah. My husband proposed to me in October… Columbus Day. I'm like, today's Indigenous Day!

Jamie DePolo: Right, oh, so just about a year ago?

Weslinne Cespedes: Right. And he proposed to me 2019, and so, just planning the wedding. So, you know, picked out my bridal party, picked out the bridesmaids' dresses, wedding dress from David's Bridal. All that kind of stuff. We were going to get married in Connecticut, a venue with 120 people, and then the date of the wedding was set for May 2, 2020.

Once I was diagnosed, the focus is just getting treatment, making sure I'm okay. All the next steps that we need to do. And with the guidelines of everything shutting down and social distancing, we ended up getting married May 25, Memorial Day.

I gave my bridal party a 4-day notice, because everything was getting pushed back. Like the venue, they called us, they said, “We can reschedule for August 1,” and then August 1 wasn’t going to work out. David's Bridal, there were issues getting my dress, because It was still in the alterations department, but the store was still closed. My bridesmaids still hadn’t gotten their dresses mailed to them. So, it was so many moving pieces that weren’t coming together. So, I gave my bridal party 4 days' notice, and I said, “Hey, we’re going to get married. We want to get married May 25. Let's make it happen.”

And they did. It was a beautiful day. We got married in the front lawn of my maid of honor's house in Long Island. My parents walked me down her driveway. And yeah, we said our I dos there, shared our first kiss there, and it was great. And so, it was the bridal party, a couple of groomsmen, the officiant, my family, and his family. And then some of the cars were parked in the front, because it's a quiet neighborhood in Long Island. And it worked out.

And then my friend, he's a photographer, so he was in the bushes, trying to take pictures of every beautiful moment, but yeah. Luckily, we got a full refund from the venue. Yeah. We got a full refund from the venue, so I was so happy to have that money back in my bank account.

Jamie DePolo: I bet. I bet.

Weslinne Cespedes: And then, I only got store credit in regards to the wedding dress. I wore a white dress that I had in my closet that my… I have two older sisters, and we had went to an all-white party…

Jamie DePolo: Oh yeah. Like the supper en blanc or something like that?

Weslinne Cespedes: Exactly!

Jamie DePolo: Yeah. Okay.

Weslinne Cespedes: And so I wore that for my wedding, but I wasn’t able to wear my wedding dress. So I think it was two weekends ago, we went to David's Bridal. They gave us store credit. So, maybe in the future, we’ll just have a big old party.

Jamie DePolo: Sure. Now, I have to ask. Were you undergoing chemotherapy when you got married, or did you get married first and then start chemo?

Weslinne Cespedes: I started chemo April 17.

Jamie DePolo: Oh, so you were.

Weslinne Cespedes: I was undergoing chemotherapy. They gave me like a week break in order for me to just have enough energy to get married.

Jamie DePolo: Yes, that’s actually what I was going to ask. Was it really taxing to do both of those things at the same time?

Weslinne Cespedes: Not as yet. I feel like my body was still holding on to energy, April and May. It started getting taxing towards the end. So, I finished September 25. I would say, early August into September was when my body was just like, “I'm over it. I'm super tired. I'm fatigued. It's really hard to stay focused.” But I was still able to bounce back after every treatment with a good white blood cell count, red blood cell count, platelet count.

But August into September, my counts were really low. I started needing blood transfusions, and sometimes I would get a week break in order for my body to bounce back. And that would discourage me. Because I'm like, I want to make it to the end of this! But my body has to be able to be at a point where it can handle the chemotherapy.

Jamie DePolo: Right. And you’ve been done with chemo for a couple of weeks now? About two and a half?

Weslinne Cespedes: Two and a half weeks.

Jamie DePolo: Okay. And how do you feel now? Are you feeling better?

Weslinne Cespedes: I'm feeling better. I'm starting to exercise a bit. Some resistance band training, though. Nothing too crazy. Zumba. I YouTube some Zumba stuff, and hopefully, in a month or so, I might get a stationary bike and just get the blood pumping a bit.

Jamie DePolo: Sure! Now I have to ask you, because there is some controversy about ringing the bell at the end of chemo. What did you decide to do?

Weslinne Cespedes: So, I do understand the controversy. And to be honest, it was a big show when I rang the bell. So, at the Dubin Center, it's different rooms for each chemo patient, and I remember, I told you, I know four ladies that work at Mount Sinai. So, when It was my last day, they came with balloons and flowers and snacks, and I loved it. I'm not going to lie! I loved it, and I couldn't wait. I was just sitting there, like, “I can’t wait! To ring the bell!” And I did. I rang the bell like it was the Liberty Bell. I rang it so many times.

But I understand the controversy, because a month prior to that, I was receiving treatment, I stayed late, I stayed until maybe 7:30 p.m. I was there since like noon for treatment, and then a blood transfusion because my counts were low. And then I had to wait on an immunity booster shot from the pharmacy. So, I'm waiting in the suite, watching TV, and I had remembered earlier going to the restroom, I saw this woman in plain clothes on a stretcher in one of the suites. Didn’t think anything of it, but I thought it was odd that she would be on a hospital stretcher instead of a regular recliner, like the rest of us.

And so, it's 7 p.m., and then I hear one of the nurses call out her name: “Hey, can you hear me? Can you wake up? Please, can you hear me?” And then, all the nurses in the wing just rush into her room. There's about 10 to 15 nurses. Then the oncology team. So, my doctors were in her room. And I'm witnessing all this. You know, I'm lowering the TV so I can hear, and they're checking her blood sugar. They called the emergency room unit, and the ICU unit. And they're trying to see what's wrong, and she's not responsive.

And I'm just like, not many people get to ring the bell. And that’s what I thought, those were the thoughts that were coming in my mind, and it was scary. I was like, even though I’m experiencing this, I'm hopeful about ringing the bell, that’s not the case for everyone. And that might not be the case for me, too. You know, I go to my appointments and they say, “You're responding well to treatment, everything's going fine.” But anything can happen, you know?

So that was a crazy time. And then a week after that happened, the oncology team, I had a follow-up appointment, and they were asking me, how did that feel? Because they saw I saw everything, and I know because of HIPAA laws they can't tell me what happened to this person. And I'm just like, “Honestly, I really hope that she made it. And honestly, me ringing the bell, I'm thinking I'm ringing the bell for those that can't.” And I understand. Like, if they gave me a certificate, and it wasn’t a big show, I would be okay with it, too. You know?

So, I get both sides. I get the hopeful happiness of ringing the bell and coming to an end to this chemo chapter journey, but I also get not having that hope of ringing the bell. So, that was wild.

Jamie DePolo: Yeah. I bet it was very, very intense.

Weslinne Cespedes: It was.

Jamie DePolo: Now, are you scheduled for surgery? If I'm remembering right, you were going to have chemo and then surgery. Is that right?

Weslinne Cespedes: Yes. So, I'm scheduled for surgery October 20.

Jamie DePolo: Oh, so very soon.

Weslinne Cespedes: Mm-hmm.

Jamie DePolo: And how are you feeling about that?

Weslinne Cespedes: I am so nervous, because I've never had surgery before.

Jamie DePolo: Oh, nothing? Like, not even your tonsils or anything like that?

Weslinne Cespedes: No. I'm trying to relate it to when I had my wisdom teeth pulled out. So, I'm a big wuss. I can't do the needle in the gum. When I've gotten my wisdom teeth pulled out twice, and I told them to knock me out. So, I remember the first time, it felt like they were attacking me. So, it was blurry. I was like, “Who are all these people around me?” And then the second time, I blinked, and I was like, “Hey, are you guys going to start?” And they were like, “We're done.” So, I'm trying to say, you’ve experienced that, so, it's the same thing.

Jamie DePolo: And what type of surgery are you having? Are you having a mastectomy or lumpectomy, or…?

Weslinne Cespedes: I will be having a lumpectomy, followed by radiation. Five weeks of radiation.

Jamie DePolo: Got it. Okay. And is that all happening at Mount Sinai, as well?

Weslinne Cespedes: Yes. It's all happening at Mount Sinai.

Jamie DePolo: Okay. So, you kind of have your same support team there to help you with this, as well.

Weslinne Cespedes: Yes. And they told me that my husband can come in the waiting room area and things like that. So, I'm hoping that still stays the same, because I know numbers are kind of rising in New York City. So, I'm like, “Please, I just want my husband in the waiting room.” That’s all I want. Not in the car.

Jamie DePolo: Understandable. Do you feel like your diagnosis has changed you at all?

Weslinne Cespedes: Oh my goodness! It has. Of course it has. I try not to take life for granted. You know, it's definitely built my faith, because in the moments where I'm by myself, receiving treatment, I'm praying. I'm listening to gospel music. Yeah. It's definitely built my faith.

It's definitely helped me appreciate my loved ones. My parents, my sisters, my friends, my husband, my daughter. I have a 13-year-old daughter.

It taught me to be vulnerable. Like if you ask people in my life, they’ll say, “Yes, Weslinne is super independent. She does things on her own.” And definitely with cancer, you need a support system. You need help. So many people in my life have seen me cry. I try not to cry, and I'm crying every day. It has changed me so, so much.

Even being vulnerable with the students that I work with. I work in a middle school, and they know, because they’ve seen me. I didn’t think they watched the news, but a few of them reached out to me and were like, “Hey, we saw you on the news. You have breast cancer?” And I'm like, “Yeah, I do.”

Jamie DePolo: Oh, wow. Were they doing a story on treatment during COVID, is that why you were on the news?

Weslinne Cespedes: Yeah, NY1 did a story on treatment during COVID and my wedding. So, that’s how my middle schoolers found out. But it was weird to just be open about my life. That’s not me at all. I'm a private person, and now I'm open about my life. Sharing on social media whenever I can. I feel like now, I just want to make an impact. Like, what am I doing?

Jamie DePolo: Like maybe you could help other people going through the same thing?

Weslinne Cespedes: Help, learn more, advocate. Now I'm part of a community that I never thought I would be a part of, and I just want to know everything I can, and do everything I can in this community. And October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, right? Other Octobers before, it would just pass me by, and now I'm like, “No, you're part of this community. What can you do?”

Jamie DePolo: I want to ask you a little bit about being vulnerable, because other people have told me asking for help was one of the hardest things that they had to do. And could you just talk a little bit about that? How it felt for you?

Weslinne Cespedes: It was a challenge in the beginning because it's not in my nature to. I wouldn’t say a form of pride, but I feel like a lot of people rely on me, in terms of my daughter, my parents. I'm very helpful, and I like feeling needed. And in this time of a pandemic, having cancer, I can't help. I need the help. I need help with meals. I need help to get to doctors' appointments. I need help with prayer. With my job. You know? I'm a school counselor. I work with middle schoolers, and that was something that I needed to do to reveal to my coworkers, I need help with what I do in my job. You know? Be patient. Be kind.

It's just weird when it's not in your character, and it definitely helped me grow and know that people will be there for you.

Jamie DePolo: Okay. Now, it sounds like, aside from the women at the cancer center, your husband was a big support person for you. Did you… I'm trying to think of how to phrase it. Did you kind of have that relationship already, where he was supporting you, or were you more independent?

Weslinne Cespedes: I was a bit more independent, but definitely learning how to be in a relationship. Because when we met, it was on a blind date. We had one mutual friend who wasn’t really trying to set us up. She just had reached out to me and reached out to him and was like, “Hey, my boyfriend is coming to visit, let's do a double date. I can find someone you can hang out with, too.” And that was that.

And from that date, he said he was amazed by the first date. And I'm over here like, “Oh, it was all right.” But what I loved is that he stayed consistent in a friendship. He got to know me and my daughter. He's not my daughter's father, but she was what, 12 or 11 at the time… getting to know a pre-teen is challenging. But he definitely took his time. Built that friendship with us. We started dating. He proposed. And in our engagement season, he got a place for us in Brooklyn. So I'm still at my mom's place, just slowly moving our stuff in, but that was the reason why we were like, hey, we’re going to get married in May, so he can better support me. Right?

He's seen me in all types of emotions. He's helped me with meals. Just the emotional support. The physical support. The spiritual support. He couldn’t have done that if we kept postponing our wedding date to August 1, to November whatever. So, we were like, we have to let go of everything, and just get married, May 25. And it was great. I married my best friend.

Jamie DePolo: That’s wonderful. And it almost sounds like, you know how when a metal is forged, like it goes through this heat and it comes out stronger? It sounds kind of like that’s what your relationship did, because you met, and then you had to go through these things. And I know sometimes people say, “Well, it will either break you apart or it will make you stronger,” and it sounds like it made the both of you very much stronger.

Weslinne Cespedes: It definitely has. It's a lot as a young married couple to go through. A pandemic and cancer on top of it, which is why I'm like, this is out of a soap opera or a movie. And I'm like, “What can I do with it? I need to share what is going on to help other people.”

Jamie DePolo: Absolutely. So, you said that you're feeling pretty good right now. What are you doing to relieve your stress or to have fun?

Weslinne Cespedes: Oh, my goodness. Trying to have fun in a pandemic.

Jamie DePolo: Exactly. I think we're all looking for some pointers on that.

Weslinne Cespedes: Oh! Oh, I think I'm the wrong person! But for the most part, definitely a lot of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime videos, YouTube. Like I said, I started exercising and looking at a bunch of, just healthy meal-prep recipes. What else? I do visit my mom a lot, his parents. Yeah.

We're really much at home, like, we're just enjoying each other's company. And then, anything Zoom-worthy. I know a month ago, our church had a Zoom karaoke kind-of-thing going on. No, it was a lip sync battle. I'm so sorry. A lip sync battle. And then there's like a mom's night, virtual mom's night out. So, everything virtual. But he's not into the virtual stuff. He's quietly waiting for the world to come back to normal. And I'm over here like, “Hon, we can try to have a new normal.”

So, that’s where we're at. So, I'm always attending any virtual thing that I can. There was one thing on the list, a virtual comedy show. So, everything that I did, back pre-COVID, if I can do it virtually, that’s where I can.

Jamie DePolo: Did you cook a lot before COVID? You talked about healthy meal prep. Were you a foodie beforehand?

Weslinne Cespedes: Definitely a foodie. Did I cook? No. I ate. I did not cook. But now that I'm not at my mom's house anymore, I'm here, definitely cooking more. Definitely. Smoothies, a lot of green juices. So when my counts were low, like my platelet count, my blood cell count, red blood cell count, I looked into things that would bring them up, and definitely a lot of leafy greens — spinach, kale. And I'm not the type of person to just eat it straight, so I'm like, what can I blend this with? Okay, spinach, kale, blueberries, bananas, ginger, lemon, everything. So, usually, if not every day, every 2 days, I’m blending up something like that.

Jamie DePolo: And you like them? They taste good?

Weslinne Cespedes: Yeah, they do.

Jamie DePolo: Okay. Good. I have to say, though, my brother told me this, he believes that there is no such thing as a banana smoothie, because his opinion is when you put a banana in anything, it tastes like banana.

Weslinne Cespedes: It does!

Jamie DePolo: Do you agree?

Weslinne Cespedes: I do! Like, I can put a whole bunch of spinach, kale, cucumbers, that one banana, even if it's a small one, it's just a banana smoothie.

Jamie DePolo: I'll have to tell him that. Because I didn't agree, and his daughters didn’t agree, but there's somebody that agrees.

So, I know you’ve got surgery coming up, which is probably also more stress in your life, but are there things that you're looking forward to?

Weslinne Cespedes: I am definitely looking forward to my hair growing back. I see a peach fuzz. I'm like, “Hey!”

Jamie DePolo: Is the color or texture at all different, or does it look pretty much the same?

Weslinne Cespedes: So, it's not curly, but it might grow out curly in a little bit. It's really spiky, and a lot of grey hairs. I told my husband I'm going to come out looking like Storm after radiation. Just you wait!

Jamie DePolo: You have to send us a picture, because they would be very cool.

Weslinne Cespedes: Right. Definitely. Definitely will. So, yes, definitely waiting for my hair to grow back some more.

Things that I'm looking forward to? So, right now, I’m working remotely, and I have that accommodation up until January. But to be honest, I could have that accommodation for a while. But stepping into the building. We started in-person learning this week, I work for a school in Harlem. So, definitely me setting foot in that building would be like, so much. Like, I don’t even, like I can't even picture it! But for me to step into the building for in-person learning, after all of this going on in my journey, it would be a dream. It would be a dream.

Jamie DePolo: Does that make you nervous at all?

Weslinne Cespedes: Yes and no. Yes and no, because you’ve been cooped up in the house for so long, you kind of want to see what's out there. I don’t want to take for granted the risk. The risk. It's a high risk. There's this, she's on Instagram, Tia Stokes, she has leukemia and COVID. So, with me going through cancer, I'm exposing myself to other people that are going through cancer. And the online communities that are out there…and it really helps. You can get so much support from the people around you, but you get a greater sense of support from people that have gone through it. And with her journey, with leukemia and now with COVID, definitely, I don’t want to take for granted the risk of going outside, but it just brings you a different sense of appreciation for just living life, you know?

I do see on my feed my friends going out, hiking or bike riding, or things like that, and those are things that I want to do when I get better. And yeah, I want to experience life, even in this pandemic. In a safe way, but that’s what I'm looking forward to.

I'm looking forward to a year from now, or maybe 2 years from now, celebrating having a wedding! Having a wedding. Going on a honeymoon! We got the money back from our honeymoon. We didn’t get to go away anywhere.

Jamie DePolo: Where were you going to go?

Weslinne Cespedes: We were going to go to [the Dominican Republic]. Yeah. We were going to go to DR. He set everything up, so I honestly don’t know anything else except for the location. Yeah. Definitely want to experience those things. You know, you don’t know how long you have.

Jamie DePolo: Okay. Well, thank you so much. Is there anything else you want to tell or share with us, before we go?

Weslinne Cespedes: Self-care is important.

Jamie DePolo: Oh, yeah, I guess that would be a good question! So, you’ve been through this. What would you tell other people? What do you want other people to know?

Weslinne Cespedes: Get yourselves checked out. Go to your primary care physician. If you feel something, say something. And I know it can be scary to go to the hospital, to your primary care physician, in a pandemic. But definitely wear your mask, wash your hands, social distance, and get the care that you need. Don’t delay it for anything. Run those blood tests. Get examined. And just find out where you're at so you can make an informed decision about what you want to do next.

Jamie DePolo: Very, very good. Weslinne, thank you so much. I really, really appreciate your time and you sharing your story, because I think, as you said, it's always helpful for other people to hear how other people handle these things, so thank you so much for sharing.

Weslinne Cespedes: Thank you!

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