One of the scariest moments of Ivis Febus-Sampayo's life was when she was diagnosed with breast cancer 25 years ago.
"I remember thinking who's going to help my husband raise our two boys? So I was first stunned. And then being who I am, I decided that I was going to take control," Febus-Sampayo recalled.
And she did, twice. After initially beating the disease, she endured a second bout more than 15 years later.
Following her first go-round with cancer Febus-Sampayo started working with SHARE, a Manhattan nonprofit organization that provides information and support to women with breast and ovarian cancer.
"Once I was able to get over that and go and help my kids and my family, I realized this is what I want to do with my life," Febus-Sampayo said.
Febus-Sampayo eventually became the first director of LatinaSHARE, the group’s program for Hispanic women.
"They need to be able to ask the appropriate questions and we help them with the questions," Febus-Sampayo said.
She created support groups for women to speak about their struggles in their native language.
"You need to be able to say 'Tengo cancer de seno. Tengo cancer de ovario.' And you need to have someone who can relate right back to you," Febus-Sampayo said.
Typically the survivors return to help women still going through treatment.
Febus-Sampayo developed a program for participants to create novelas, or dramatic tales, debunking myths in the Hispanic community about fighting cancer.
"'They're going to take my breasts away or 'I'm afraid to get breast cancer because if I lose my breasts, my husband is going to leave me,'" Febus-Sampayo said.
After 15 years of running LatinaSHARE, Febus-Sampayo is now the organization's Senior Director of Programs and her work has helped 30,000 women.
Maria Teresa Estrella is one of them.
"I have an additional family that I can reach out to if I need to. And it help me also to know that there were other women there going through the same journey," Estrella said.
"Cancer is not prejudiced. Cancer can affect and does affect all communities," Febus-Sampayo said.
And so for giving women in the Hispanic community a shoulder to lean on during their own trying times, Ivis Febus-Sampayo is our New Yorker of the Week.