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Breast cancer survivor urges women to get regular screenings and mammograms, thanks local non-profit ‘The Rose’

The first time Ediana Quijada found a lump in her breast, she was laughed off and told “it was happening because of her period and nothing to worry about.”

It was far from nothing. After a six-year battle with metastatic breast cancer, the cheerful Houston native is happy to share her story with other young women, advising regular breast exams, early detection having made a key difference in many cases.

In the fall of 2012, 29-year-old Ediana was finishing her construction management internship at the University of Houston.

The internship did not offer health insurance but UH hosts free mammography screenings in October in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month. However, when she told the nurses about her lump, they assured her, with a cursory glance, that she was too young to worry about cancer. She was sent away without a mammogram.

Reassured and a little abashed about being paranoid, she busied herself with assignments as the stresses of the semester took over. The second of four siblings (two sisters, one little brother), Ediana said she had no reason to suspect the worst because there was no history of cancer in her family.

But the lump wouldn’t stay quiet.


“I started feeling that the little lump was getting bigger and bigger,” Ediana said. “I could measure it; it was an inch now. Or is it in my head? Then I would calculate, my period must be coming, that’s why the lump’s getting big … and my breast is turning pink.”

A visit with her mother’s doctor in December confirmed the devastating news — a large mass in her breast. Could be a tumor. Clearly, the cancer had made good use of the two-month delay.

“I didn’t have insurance, so my mother took me to a walk-in clinic,” Eidana said. “The doctor said, ‘oh my God, why didn’t you come before?’”

A few hours and one $100-ultrasound later, she was advised to do a biopsy.

“The biopsy cost over $2,000, I thought ‘I can’t do that right now,’ and he (the doctor) referred me to The Rose,” Ediana said.

That first encounter with The Rose marked the beginning of Ediana’s long, painful but ultimately successful battle with breast cancer. A Houston-based nonprofit group, The Rose provides breast cancer screenings and treatment regardless of patients’ ability to pay. They began Ediana’s treatment by conducting another ultrasound, this one costing only $10.

A little monster inside your breast.

Ediana was paired with a patient navigator who helped her through the system and set up her appointments.

“It turns out I was Stage 3, Type C, which is borderline Stage 4,” said Ediana. “Very aggressive and very bad. They said, ‘it looks like you have a little monster inside’.”

Given the tumor’s massive size, treatment had to begin immediately. When three painful rounds of chemo (each lasting around eight months), one round of radiation and one surgery failed to eliminate the cancer, her doctors put Ediana on an–at the time–experimental drug called T-DM1.

“This

Planet Fitness, Round1 will bring changes to local malls

MOORESTOWN – New tenants coming to South Jersey malls show the changing face of shopping centers.

Watch: Turnaround try at troubled mall

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A Planet Fitness gym will open Thursday at Moorestown Mall, occupying more than 22,000 square feet in a complex that’s lost several big retailers in recent years.

And Round1, a “family entertainment center” based in Japan, will debut Oct. 24 at Deptford Mall. The new arrival will offer 12 bowling lanes, five billiards tables and 250-plus arcade games — will occupy more than 50,000 square feet vacated by the struggling Sears chain.



a person walking down a street in front of a building: Shoppers pass Round1, a family entertainment center opening Oct. 24 at Deptford Mall.


© Jim Walsh, Courier-Post
Shoppers pass Round1, a family entertainment center opening Oct. 24 at Deptford Mall.

Mall operators say they’re eager to diversify their tenant mix in the face of a harsh retail environment, particularly for traditional brick-and-mortar chains.

More: Moorestown board approves mall redevelopment study

More: Plan proposes new use for parking lot at Grand Market Place in Willingboro

“Overall, what we’re doing is providing people with more reasons to visit our property,” said a statement from Macerich, a California firm that owns Deptford Mall.

It noted an interest in attracting “exciting entertainment concepts, immersive technology experiences (and) a variety of dining options.”

The statement also pointed to “international brands that are expanding in the U.S. market.”

Recent arrivals at Deptford Mall include two Australian retailers, Lovisa and Cotton On.

Lovisa is described as a “woman’s fast-fashion jewelry and accessories concept,” while Cotton On sells casual clothing, accessories and homewares.

PREIT, a Philadelphia-based firm that owns Moorestown Mall and other shopping centers, wants to attract “healthcare providers, food markets, fulfillment and logistics operators,” Joseph Coradino, the firm’s CEO, said earlier this year.

Both PREIT and Macerich also want to develop housing and hotels at some properties.

“We think of our well-situated properties, like Deptford Mall, as ‘town centers’ for the wide range of activities people enjoy,” said Macerich.



a tree in front of a building: Planet Fitness plans to open Oct. 15 at the Moorestown Mall.


© Jim Walsh, Courier-Post
Planet Fitness plans to open Oct. 15 at the Moorestown Mall.

Similarly, Coradino has said PREIT’s properties could evolve into “commerce districts.”

The mall operators are attempting to ease financial strains that have worsened with the COVID-19 pandemic.

PREIT in August reported a net loss of $49 million for first-half 2020. That compared to a year-before deficit of $33.9 million for the firm, which also owns the Cherry Hill Mall and Cumberland Mall in Vineland.

Macerich had a first-half net loss of $17.6 million. It reported net income of $23.5 million a year earlier.

The Moorestown location is the first in a mall for Billy Olson, who operates 19 Planet Fitness gyms in South Jersey.

“The mall does provide advantages including space, parking, and visibility,” he said Tuesday. “We were able to build a state-of-the-art facility and not be confined by the amount of space to use.”

Planet Fitness occupies six former units at the Route 38 shopping center, which saw closings for a Lord + Taylor department store in January and a Sears store in