Everyone will mark 2020 as an extraordinary year, but the degrees of good and bad vary according to who you speak to. For 44-year-old Louisa Enriquez, it’s been a year of beating cancer three times, in a pandemic no less.
Still, despite a seemingly endless crisis, Enriquez got through it all with a radiant smile, some dance moves and a loyal support system to keep spirits high.
“They call me the dancing queen. I think I’m more a clown,” Enriquez told Lovin Malta about her online videos.
“I do it to make people laugh. I’ve also been a joker from when I was at school, so this was my natural coping mechanism.”
Enriquez’s battle with cancer began around her birthday on 2nd January 2020.
“I was about to throw myself a party, but suddenly I noticed I was bleeding considerably when I went to the bathroom and I was rushed to hospital,” she said.
She remained in Mater Dei for a week and did a biopsy.
“The results came out on 24th January. It was cancer in my kidney,” she recalled.
Undeterred, Enriquez asked her friends to help her celebrate her life before undergoing the major operation.
“I told my friends about my diagnosis by text. I still wanted to celebrate and focus on the present.”
Two months after removing her kidney, another hospital visit found that Enriquez had tumours growing in her bladder.
“I just knew it had come back again from the pain I was feeling,” she recalled.
After multiple chemotherapy treatments, hospital visits in Malta and abroad, 11 scans, countless IV drips, PCR and blood tests, Enriquez has had to remove her bladder, kidney and her uterus. Today, she is a survivor.
“I’ve had cancer three times in one year. I told my mother I must be cursed,” she laughed.
“I’m not saying I wasn’t feeling scared. Cancer is a monster and there’s little you can do about it. Dancing and acting this way was my way of letting go. I still managed to have a year full of beautiful moments. I had friends surprise me constantly, my house was always full of flowers, cards, art and bakes.”
Enriquez’s key to positivity? Decorate each dark moment with things to raise your spirits.
“When my son had a major operation, one of 28 in his life, I got a “stay strong” tattoo. Before each surgery or chemotherapy session, I danced as freely as I could. I’m also lucky to be surrounding by great people,” she said.
After her overseas hospital trip to England, her friends welcomed her in a limousine and drank champagne outside her home.
“They think I am the hero but they’re my everything, my strength: my family and my friends. They’re my heroes, not me.”
If Enriquez has any advice for anyone going through dark times, it’s to take stock of your blessings.
“If I had advice, it would be to spend as much time with your kids as possible. That’s one thing that really struck me. Before each operation I was crying so much, I was alone, and it made me think about what I could leave behind, my three children, my husband, family and friends,” she said.
“You never know when your last day is going to be. Before my last operation in England, I thought I was going to die, but I’m here and grateful.”
What do you think of Enriquez’s story?