BCA-MCI Giron Matthews HERO


Mother of Four Says Deep Faith Helped Her Beat Breast Cancer

Baptist Health Miami Cancer Institute

Faith runs deep for Diana “Didi” Matthews, a writer and inspirational blogger who along with her husband was commissioned as a pastor in 2014. So when the 48-year-old Homestead mother of four was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year, she leaned into her faith like never before.



(Watch now: Breast cancer survivor Diana “Didi” Matthews talks about how her faith and her doctors at Baptist Health Miami Cancer Institute helped her beat breast cancer. Video by Alcyene de Almeida Rodrigues.)


“I knew God was going to lead me to the right doctor”

Mrs. Matthews, who was born in Cali, Colombia and has lived in the Miami area since she was seven, says she is a believer whose faith is fully in the Lord. “I knew that God was going to lead me to the right doctor, and that through that doctor’s experience and the right treatment and my being obedient – not just to the voice of God but to the instructions I was being given as a patient – everything was going to be all right.”


Mrs. Matthews’ journey began earlier this year when her mother asked her if she had had a mammogram. “And I said, ‘Well, no, I haven’t.’ So at 47 years old, I found myself getting my first mammogram,” she says.


“When I hung up the phone, I was in shock”

It was a wise decision, and one that likely saved her life. Her screening at Baptist Health Miami Cancer Institute’s Mammography Center revealed two areas of cancer in her left breast. Mrs. Matthews got the “dreaded call” on February 24, while she was in her car running errands on her lunch hour. She had stage 1 invasive lobular ER/PR positive HER2 negative breast cancer and would need to undergo surgery to remove her diseased breast.


“When I hung up the phone I was in shock. I didn’t cry until I got back to the parking lot of my job,” says Mrs. Matthews, whose thoughts immediately turned to her children and husband. “I thought it was going to take me away from my children, take me away from my marriage.”


“Cancer is cancer – no matter what”

Invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC) is the second most common type of invasive breast cancer after invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC), according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. It accounts for 10 to 15 percent of all breast cancer diagnoses – roughly 40,000 cases a year in the U.S.


ILC starts in the breast’s lobules, or milk glands, and spreads beyond the lobules into surrounding breast tissue. While it doesn’t always form a lump, women with ILC may notice “a thick or full area” that doesn’t feel like the rest of the breast.


Dr. Giron

Gladys Giron, M.D., breast surgical oncologist with Baptist Health Miami Cancer Institute


Mrs. Matthews was referred to Gladys Giron, M.D., a breast surgical oncologist at Baptist Health Miami Cancer Institute. “Mrs. Matthews had multi-centric disease, where at least two tumors develop separately – often in different areas of the breast,” Dr. Giron notes. “A mastectomy was the indicated surgical procedure.”


Genetic testing results for Mrs. Matthews showed she did not have a mutation that would have caused her breast cancer. However, Dr. Giron notes, her patient was concerned that continuing radiologic screening would produce significant anxiety. According to standard guidelines, Ms. Matthews and her surgical team decided to proceed with a right prophylactic mastectomy to reduce her anxiety and optimize symmetry of reconstruction.


“Even though my cancer was small, cancer is cancer – no matter what,” Mrs. Matthews says. “And so, after praying with my husband, we made the decision to just go ahead and get rid of both of them.”


“The fact of the matter is cancer sucks”

After her surgery, review of her pathology report and further testing showed she would not require chemotherapy. She is currently receiving endocrine therapy with Ana Cristina Sandoval Leon, M.D., a medical oncologist at Miami Cancer Institute.


Doctor Leon

Ana Cristina Sandoval Leon, M.D., medical oncologist with Baptist Health Miami Cancer Institute

Mrs. Matthews is taking Tamoxifen for five years to help prevent recurrence. She underwent an immediate tissue expander reconstruction and will have her implant exchange in the future.


“The fact of the matter is cancer sucks. I’m still looking at myself and learning to love myself because it’s not always a pretty sight,” Mrs. Matthews admits. “But now I’m cancer-free and so I’ve shifted my focus to that. My life was spared and I’m going to do whatever it takes mentally, physically and emotionally to maintain myself and my health.”


Mrs. Matthews stresses how important it is to have the support of family and friends when battling cancer. “I had such amazing people around me – my husband, my mom, my friends and co-workers,” she says. “My husband is my rock. He’s my home team, my number one cheerleader.”


“It was God who led me to Dr. Giron”

Mrs. Matthews says her experience at Miami Cancer Institute was “great” and that everyone there was so compassionate. “Compassion is very important to me – I always treat people the way I want to be treated,” she says.


She adds that she also felt “very safe” in the hands of Dr. Giron and all the different nurses and staff members she encountered on her journey. “I felt very safe there because I know it was God who led me to Dr. Giron. I knew everything was going to be okay.”


BCA-MCI Giron Matthews BDAY


Dr. Giron says that when she went to see her patient prior to surgery, Mrs. Matthews and her husband were praying together and listening to faith-based music. She could see that it was making them feel good and easing any anxiety they may have had at that point.


“I am happy to see patients looking to their faith because a cancer diagnosis is a life-changing event and it can be very scary,” Dr. Giron says. “To be able to hold on to your faith certainly helps you and your family navigate each step of your treatment.”


“I believe I can move mountains”

Mrs. Matthews says that being able to say she’s cancer-free gives her confidence that she can meet any obstacle. “As long you have that fight in you, God and the doctors are going to do whatever they have to do to get you where you need to be. To say I’m cancer-free makes me believe that I can move mountains,” she says.


In hindsight, Mrs. Matthews adds, she would have gotten annual mammograms starting at the recommended age of 40. However, she’s grateful she got her first one in time to catch her breast cancer before it became even more of a problem. “If I wouldn’t have gone to get that mammogram, I wouldn’t be sitting here today sharing my story,” she says.

Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

Language Preference / Preferencia de idioma

I want to see the site in English

Continue In English

Quiero ver el sitio en Español

Continuar en español