Natalia Hurtado: “The greatest learning that cancer has given me has been resilience and living in the present”
Pink October is the Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In this special month we would like to tell you the story of the particular case of one of our colleagues, Natalia Hurtado Soler, from Valencia. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2017 and, now that she has overcome it, she has turned to sport and healthy living to overcome the physical and psychological consequences, to raise awareness of this disease and to help collect money for research. To this end, she has created the project @cimasporlavida (@peaksforlife), with the aim of contributing to making the disease visible and raising awareness of the importance of more research to save more lives.
What do you do, and how long have you been part of GFT?
I studied physical sciences and have been working in IT for 20 years. I have worked in Germany and Ireland, always in the IT sector for banks. I’ve been part of GFT since 2016. I started out as a programmer, then moved on to project management and have been working in architecture for 5 years, in the role of Solution Architect.
When were you diagnosed with cancer and what was the prognosis?
I was diagnosed in May 2017: A hormonal breast cancer, stage II. With a very favorable prognosis. Thanks to research, it was curable.
How did you react initially?
At first my world fell apart when I heard the word cancer. Even if I got over it, my life was not going to be the same. I had a lot of respect for the treatments and operations.
What was the hardest part?
The physical changes and the consequences that would remain. They were supposed to limit me for life. Above all, the risk of lymphedema which would prevent me from overexerting myself and therefore condition me not to practice certain sports.
And the biggest learning?
Resilience and living in the present. No matter what happens to us in life, we must accept it and move on. Because we only have one life and we must live it as well as possible, within our circumstances.
It has also taught me to live in the here and now. The future is uncertain. But now I enjoy every moment 🙂
Who were your great supporters during the hardest times?
My family and my children. My sisters always accompanied me to all treatments and was a great emotional support. My children were my motor, to keep fighting, no matter how low-energy I felt.
How do you feel now?
I have been reborn. I am full of LIFE. I have had a great emotional growth that makes me HAPPIER.
What would you highlight as the great change this disease has brought to your life?
It has made me realise what is important and what is not. We must fight for our dreams and enjoy every moment of our lives. I have learned to LIVE!
Tell us what initiatives you have launched now to raise awareness of this issue
To overcome the physical and psychological consequences of my illness, I have turned to healthy living and sport. They bring many benefits. And I have launched the project @Cimasporlavida (@peaksforlife), where I organise groups of people to climb mountain peaks, with the aim of contributing to making the disease visible and raising awareness of the importance of more research to save more lives. In this project, the last challenge was the ascent of the Aneto peak (3404 metres) in the Spanish Pyrenees. It was a very special peak because it is the roof of the Pyrenees and it was also a solidarity challenge where everything that was collected went to research against breast cancer with the GEICAM scientific association.
I had a lot of respect for this peak, because of the height and the technical passages. But with the help of my mountain group and all the physical and mental training, I got it without any problem. When I reached the peak, I felt happy, that in spite of everything I have been through, I still have a life full of possibilities that I am going to LIVE.
Any feedback from your colleagues or the company? Have they helped you in any way?
The company and my colleagues helped me a lot, both during my leave and when I came back. I have had a lot of understanding and have been able to overcome my physical tiredness at my own pace until I was well again.
What are you most proud of in this respect?
I feel proud to have turned something so negative in my life into something very positive. Now I am happier because I have learned to LIVE.
Any message for people who are fighting this disease?
Although a cancer diagnosis is hard, you must keep on fighting day by day, because at some point you will see the light again. You must live the present and enjoy every moment because tomorrow is uncertain.
Any other issues you would like to highlight?
With my project @cimasporlavida, I would like to support people who are going through this hard illness. To encourage that, even if we have after-effects, we should try to overcome them as much as possible and keep on pursuing our dreams.
But the most important thing in my project is to contribute to making the disease visible and to raise awareness that it is very important that there is more research for more life.
Natalia and @cimasporlavida
“It all started a year ago at Toubkal (4167 meters), in Morocco. 8 women who had gone through cancer learned that we had 4167 reasons to live. What we experienced climbing this peak was extraordinary, it united our hearts forever and our will to live.
I’ve liked the mountains for as long as I can remember. It fills me with energy and vitality. Contact with nature enlightens my soul.
The Toubkal reawakened my passion for the mountains, I realized what I was still capable of, despite all the treatments and operations I had gone through.
But this time it was different, I had always liked hiking in the mountains, but now I wanted to conquer their peaks.
This is where my project @cimasporlavida was born.
Every time I climb a peak I dedicate it to colleagues who are going through or have gone through the illness.
Many leave us along the way. In this case I like to remember them in my heart. I raise an aecc (Spanish association against cancer) flag with the slogan “I will be your strength, let nothing stop you”, to give my support and strength to all these people.
I celebrate life on each of these peaks.
Life is something we take for granted, but when we are touched by cancer, we realize how exceptional LIVING is.
Best of all, I feel better and more energetic every day. I don’t even remember that I have any more after effects or maybe I’ve overcome them. The hormone therapy and its side effects, the lymphedema, the chronic fatigue, the sadness… all gone.
Sometimes I think that having passed this cancer has been the best thing that has happened to me, because of the lessons it has left me and because of the strong personal growth I have had.
I’ve been training physically and mentally for some time to climb higher and higher. So I have no doubt that I will reach every peak I set out to reach.
I love to enjoy the climb and get to the top. These are glorious moments that you share with your fellow travellers. It’s a perfect analogy of what life is all about.
It helps me to live the present, to overcome obstacles, to go little by little, to fight for what I dream of.
You realise that, even if it costs a lot of effort, “if you want to, you get a lot of purpose.””