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Nurse practitioner relates brush with breast cancer
Local Nurse Practitioner Robin Mesa speaks about her experience with breast cancer Tuesday night at the Women of Hope Fundraiser and Fashion Show at Chez Shari. The event organized by local independent Mary Kay Consultants raised over $4,000 for the Mary Kay Ash Foundation. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL

As a nurse practitioner that specializes in women’s issues, Robin Mesa knew how important breast self-examinations were.

There wasn’t a day that went by that she didn’t remind at least half-a-dozen women to make sure that they stay on top of the practice. Early detection, she’d warn, was the best course of action and the quick and painless procedure is too simple not to do it.

And while she tried to follow her own advice as often as she could, it would be a pair of abnormal mammogram readings that would set off the red flags in the life of the mother of two.

The diagnosis came three years ago. She had breast cancer.

But as she recounted to dozens of Mary Kay women at Chez Shari for the Women of Hope Fundraiser and Fashion Show Tuesday night at Chez Shari at the Manteca Golf Course, the revelation proved to be anything but a death sentence. Initially shocked and devastated – just one year into her new practice at the Kaiser Permanente Clinic here in Manteca – she became focused and intent on not becoming a statistic.

With the support of her family, she also got a little boost from the people she was supposed to be boosting.

“Here I am, in the white lab coat, supposed to be dispensing all of this advice to my patients,” Mesa said. “And at the end of the day I’d get home and some of the things that they would say to me would hit me. I would think ‘How did she manage to slip that one by me?’”

Tuesday’s event was the second annual organized by local independent Mary Kay contractors that will take the money raised and donate it to the Mary Kay Ash Foundation – which goes to fight the cancer and domestic violence epidemics in America today.

Sandra Munguia, who recently had a friend that was diagnosed with breast cancer, came up with the idea for the event last year and watched it go on to raise over $400 for the foundation.

Even before Tuesday’s event was over, more than $4,000 had already been taken in. Additional donations will still be accepted after the fact to help benefit the non-profit foundation named after the woman who founded one of American’s most recognizable makeup and skincare brands.

And Mary Kay will always have a place in Robin Mesa’s heart.

While undergoing rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, she put extra attention into her makeup because she knew that if she looked good it would make her feel better. Having something take away the black rings under her eyes from the sheer physical exhaustion of the treatments was also something that she knew she wanted.

At the end of the day, she said, she found all of that as well as a support group of women that have the right attitude and outlook on life – something that has become even more important to her now that she had her brush with cancer.

“And now that I’m here you guys aren’t going to get rid of me,” she said with a laugh.