HomeNewsArticle Display

MDG commander battles breast cancer with the help of Tricare

Col. Theresa Medina, 319th Medical Group commander, poses for a photo at her desk Oct. 30, 2017, at Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota. Medina was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer a few years ago and overcame the illness with the help of Tricare and the support of family and friends. (U.S. Air Force photo by SrA Cierra Presentado)

Col. Theresa Medina, 319th Medical Group commander, poses for a photo at her desk Oct. 30, 2017, at Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D. Medina was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer in 2011 and overcame the illness with the help of Tricare and the support of family and friends. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Cierra Presentado)

Col. Theresa Medina, 319th Medical Group commander, and her daughter Sophia, pose for a photo after participating in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure event April 1, 2014. Medina was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer in 2011 and overcame the illness with the help of Tricare and the support of family and friends. (Courtesy photo)

Col. Theresa Medina, 319th Medical Group commander, and her daughter Sophia, pose for a photo after participating in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure event April 1, 2014. Medina was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer in 2011 and overcame the illness with the help of Tricare and the support of family and friends. (Courtesy photo)

GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. (AFNS) -- “I knew my life was going to change, I knew I was not in control, and that’s what scared me the most.” These are the thoughts that ran through Col. Theresa Medina’s mind as she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Fifteen minutes after finding out she landed a position as a squadron commander at Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, Medina found out she was diagnosed with cancer. She would have to stop everything and start chemotherapy immediately.

“I was shocked; for 19 years I had almost no health issues, no history of breast cancer in my family,” Medina said. “I was in denial; there was nothing that could have prepared me for this news.”

Initially, Medina kept the news to herself for fear of others seeing her as weak. She broke the news to close family and friends, including her daughter, which she says was the hardest part for her.

“Having to explain to my 3-year-old daughter that mommy would have to go to the hospital was heartbreaking,” she said. “I can recall telling her that I would be losing my long hair and what she said still gets me emotional to this day; ‘Mommy, it’s ok, we’ll do this together.’ Her positivity and her understanding at her age was part of what gave me the strength to get through and fight it.”

Even as she underwent constant treatments, Medina still managed to maintain her position as a squadron commander and as an Airman overall. The fear of not knowing what would be the outcome of each treatment quickly became a faint thought in the back of her mind as she strived to stay positive no matter what she was going through.

“There were treatments after treatments every day, new medication that I didn’t know how my body would react to,” she said. “And that’s how it is with treating cancer, you never know what to expect. I looked at it as having a mission to complete; to get well and get back to work.”

After going through countless treatments and labs, good news finally came. Medina learned her cancer was stage one, meaning the risk and remaining treatments would not be as severe and the possibility of the cancer coming back would be lessened.

“When I heard the news that I had stage one cancer, I was relieved,” she said. “I had been receiving nothing but great care, and I was thankful that I would be able to finish up the treatment sooner rather than later.”

Medina gives credit to the many civilian and military doctors who played a role in her journey to recovery from day one to today. The Tricare office took careful steps to set her up with the best treatment center and surgeons in her area.

“I am extremely grateful and appreciative for Tricare. There would be times when I would go in the doctor’s office and see other patients struggling to figure out where their co-pays would come from or how they would be able to afford the $8,000 treatments, but Tricare covered all of those expenses for me,” she said. “They ensured I was seen by the best, and in return I am cancer free.”

When unforeseen situations like these occur, military members and their families rely on Tricare for all medical issues. Tricare provides medical coverage for active duty members and their dependents. While different regions have different avenues, it is important that members stay in the know when it comes to their regions.

As the medical group commander, Medina highly recommends members visit their local Tricare office for any questions or concerns.

She said, “Our number one concern is for our patients, we want to provide you with the best care possible.”

Engage

Facebook Twitter
The #TotalForce is here and representing at #ASC19. Here's a lineup of tomorrow's events. https://t.co/vxAw3uzlVR
USAF is speaking with #Airmen attending #ASC19 and learning more about their conference experiences. Watch to hear… https://t.co/x5bYJT3oxA
#ICYMI, some of our stellar #Airmen were honored today at the #ASC19 with an awards ceremony. See them here: https://t.co/aqPYQqyiS6
#DrWillRoper: These are the things we need to trend in our #USAF. We need to make these go viral. #deftAFhttps://t.co/p4OUvVMSwi
To maintain a competitive acquisitions system we have to change as the world changes. https://t.co/r4vx6BDgS8
.@ActingSecAF: It truly has been an honor of a lifetime to serve with you these last few months as Acting Secretary… https://t.co/xugoAsWNQq
.@ActingSecAF: We’re building a 21st century force for the Information Age & we can’t do it w/o you. Your ideas, yo… https://t.co/XyKxI3AFQJ
.@ActingSecAF: As @GenDaveGoldfein has maintained, victory is not a birthright, it has to be fought for! America ha… https://t.co/WBlqoHveh4
.@ActingSecAF: Data, information, technology…these are the things that will ensure we compete, deter & win against… https://t.co/tO9igNFFlF
.@ActingSecAF: If the entire @DeptofDefense transitioned to conditioned based mx we could save as much as $15B/yr.… https://t.co/OGFAxl94FM
.@ActingSecAF: We kicked off an initiative in the #USAF working w/ industry to install & sustain #5G networks at 10… https://t.co/rUb5MMrCFv
.@ActingSecAF: The government must spin on tech advancements from industry & the private sector. The same tech that… https://t.co/gMOSFfM2V5
.@ActingSecAF: The #DigitalAF is a transformation in the way we employ data, tech, & infrastructure to remain dominant in the 21st century.
.@ActingSecAF: Instead of relying on one specific platform for future C2, we’re developing a robust open architectu… https://t.co/JfMwoMlQu0
.@ActingSecAF: It will take true teamwork across all forces and domains to meet the difficult challenges posed by future adversaries.
.@ActingSecAF: Victory in combat will depend less on discrete warfighting platforms & more on the networks, data, a… https://t.co/KmrtRj4CRH
.@ActingSecAF: It’s time we truly harness the power of the Information Age and reclaim our significant competitive technological advantage.
.@ActingSecAF: While we need to get bigger, we must also get better. #AirForceWeNeed