School for Advanced Studies Wolfson junior Isabella Giret was 13 when her mom was first diagnosed with breast cancer. At the time the situation confused her. She found it helped when she attended a Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center breast cancer support group.
“I went a couple of times the first time around,” she says. “I needed information.”
When she was 15, her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer for a second time. The second bout motivated Giret to do something more, especially since she spent more time alone with her mom, helping her cope with the cancer and the treatment.
“I was speaking to my mom about how not everyone has access to what we have,” she says. “I wanted to contribute to the individuals that once helped us.”
She says the support group means everything to her.
“People share their stories and we do many activities,” she says. “It’s mostly for conversations.”
She goes with her mom but she also goes by herself.
The stories she heard from the women moved her. They talked about how it was difficult to afford everything that they needed.
“I wanted to give back to them,” she says. “It’s very hard to adjust to the new life.”
Giret says the group helps the women love themselves again and to live their lives normally.
“A lot of them go to mastectomies or double mastectomies,” she says.
To help those women, she took money her grandmother left her and created Las Flores de Mari, kits.
The kits are named after her mother and her grandmother who was also diagnosed with breast cancer.
“She left me money and for years I didn’t know what to do with it,” Giret says.
The kits are filled with blankets, socks, mastectomy bras, lip balm, moisturizer, water bottles, personalized letters, lymphedema bracelets, and healthy recipes.
“I gave it to them in December,” she says. “We distributed 25 of them.”
She used her mom as a reference when deciding what to put in the kits. She also remembered some essentials from her time as a volunteer at Sylvester in the gynecology area.
Giret says she still has money left from her inheritance and plans to make another 25 Las Flores de Mari kits.
While volunteering at Sylvester, she received the patients, inputted their information and directed them to where they needed to go. She ran errands for the doctors as needed.
She volunteered there all of last school year and through the summer. Her plan is to return in the summer, depending on the coronavirus situation.
In the past she volunteered at Veteran’s Hospital. In fact, both of her parents have worked there and she and her sisters volunteered.
“It’s been something important to me,” she says. “My sister and I were placed in the spinal cord unit. We would help them through their daily walks, physical therapy.”
Giret says they also helped the vets practice Bocce Ball for the Wheelchair Games.
She wants to become a neurosurgeon. When she read The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sack for a psychology class assignment, she was fascinated – especially by Chapter Three.
“It’s a book that presents neurological cases,” she says. “I started searching for more and researching more.”
At SAS, she’s a member of the National Honor Society, the National Hispanic Honor Society, the Medical Club and Women of Tomorrow.
She volunteers at Holy Rosary Catholic Church as an usher and she’s involved in the United Way’s Youth Institute program.