We are a Family Medicine residency program based out of New Jersey and would like to introduce you to Dr. Natalie Rivera. She is a loving mother to 4 year old Penelope, dedicated wife to Joe of 7 years, family medicine resident, and has been recently diagnosed with Stage II invasive ductal breast cancer that will require her to undergo multiple rounds of chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, and subsequent hormone therapy. Within a few weeks of her diagnosis she was started on her first round of chemotherapy consisting of Adriamycin and Cytoxan.
A cancer diagnosis itself is enough to break someone. Add on the additional stress of being a resident, trying to pass your boards, being a mom with long hours, and multiple moves hoping to make ends meet would make most people believe life was impossible. Most people are not Dr. Natalie Rivera.
Even with this life altering diagnosis, Natalie is aiming to become a well rounded family medicine physician, watch her daughter attend school, and grow old with Joe. She is a vital part of our residency program and a compassionate doctor. To give you a glimpse of Natalie’s dedication, during the first few weeks of her diagnosis, Natalie had multiple doctor appointments, diagnostic testing, and lab work. While she had all this plus herself to think about, she continued to make sure patient messages were addressed for medication refills and communicate with patients about their own lab results.
Throughout our training, our group of residents have become very close through the challenges we have faced together. Through it all, we have stuck together and see this as another challenge we need to face together. We cannot imagine graduating without Natalie by our side and have made it our mission to help her in anyway we can along the way.
Excerpt from Joseph Lugardo (husband):
As a mom and wife, Natalie has been our rock. Through all the hectic things in our lives, we all needed a piece of Natalie. But I realize now it's time for me to give her pieces back and make her whole again so that she may complete this next journey of her life. Despite this diagnosis, Natalie is still worried about the financial burdens our family will face when she needs to take time off for her surgery. My hope is that these funds will help ease our family and ease Natalie so she can focus on herself. She is the greatest person I know, and I couldn't picture life without her. I know this is a tough journey, but I know my warrior baby will graduate with her class this upcoming year, because that is her dream. She will always persevere and she will beat this cancer, with all of us helping her along the way.
Natalie has dedicated her life to learning the art of medicine and now is when she needs medicine to fight for her the most. Donations will go towards copays, transportation, medical bills, and any unforeseen expenses.