AML patient and Empowerment Lead, Sasha Tanori, shares how her culture impacted her care and how her diagnosis opened her family’s eyes to start taking care of themselves.
My culture made a big significance in my care, because it was something that my family, especially my dad with the Mexican side, it wasn’t something that you did. You didn’t go out and seek care if you are hurt, you just sucked it up, you went to work, you went to school, you did your job, you took care of your family, and that was it. If you had any type of ailments or illness, you would just rub some Vaseline and do the sana sana and just move on about your day. So when I started getting the bruises and the tiredness and the fatigue, my dad was just like, “She’s just clumsy, she’s just making it up, or she’s being dramatic,” and it was never a big deal to anybody, especially with him. You know my mom, she’s a little bit more on my side with everything, so she was like, “Oh yeah, you know, maybe you should go to the hospital. Maybe you should go check this out, maybe you should go do that.”
But finally, it was my cousin who convinced me about like a month after all, I was going through all of that to go to the hospital, and still my dad was just like, “Man, she’s going to go to the hospital and be there for 12 hours, and nothing’s going to be wrong.” He was so sure that everything was fine, so finally, when I had went, and I found out I had cancer, I think it really opened my dad’s eyes to realize, “Wow, maybe she wasn’t lying.”
Maybe she wasn’t making it up. But yeah, I think it was a really big step on my part being Mexican American, to finally take that step to take care of myself, especially physically and mentally, you know? God forbid, you have depression or anxiety in a Mexican household, they’re just like, “No, no, no, there’s no…what do you mean you don’t feel good? Just walk outside, drink some coffee, you’ll be fine. Get over it.” So yeah, I think it really opened my dad’s eyes, especially seeing me so sick for him to kind of realize, “Wow, you know, this stuff is kind of serious.” Because now he goes to the doctor, he takes his medication, he takes care of himself more.
But yeah, having that type of cultural background in your household, it’s really hard to express how you’re feeling when it comes to your mental and physical health. It’s hard to walk up to your dad and be like, “Hey, Dad, I’m not feeling good, can you take me to the doctor? Or can we talk about this?” And she’s like, “No, no, no. We don’t talk about stuff. No, we don’t go to the doctor, we don’t do any of that stuff, we have to stay strong and work and take care of the family.” We’re not allowed to be sick, we’re not allowed to take care of ourselves pretty much, I think…
Thankfully, me taking care of myself has kind of helped him as well to take care of himself.