October is known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and as most optometry students are focused on pumpkin spice lattes and preparing for Halloween, one optometry student is focused on the road to recovery. Terry Ann Ramjus, OptometryStudent.com‘s October Student in Focus, is a second year student at the Inter American University of Puerto Rico School of Optometry, and recently discovered that instead of going back to Puerto Rico to begin her second year she had to stay home in order to receive treatment.
Terry Ann has gone through a lot of treatment modalities and several obstacles during her road to recovery, but thankfully, the treatment has been working. Terry Ann participates in several fundraisers and cancer awareness events in order to share her story with those still fighting against cancer. During an interview with Terry Ann I asked her about her shocking news and how, as an optometry student, was she able to overcome this difficult time:
Tell us a little about yourself!
I was born in Kingston, Jamaica and raised in Miami, Florida. I attended the University of Florida for my undergraduate studies earning a bachelor of science in international economics in May 2003. I was a middle school social science teacher for seven years in Miami-Dade County. I became an optometry student in fall 2012 at the Inter American School of Optometry.
How and when did you find out you had breast cancer?
I felt a hard lump in my right breast during a self-exam in June 2013. Discovering the lump led me to make an appointment for an ultrasound at a diagnostic center. The ultrasound was followed by a mammogram on 6/27/13. The radiologist recommended I return for a biopsy the next day, 6/28/13. I had an MRI following the biopsy and hoped for the best. I was diagnosed with stage 3 infiltrating ductal carcinoma (breast cancer) on July 1,2013.
Do you remember your reaction after being diagnosed?
I felt blindsided by the diagnosis.
How has this impacted your career as an optometry student?
I have taken a leave of absence from optometry school to receive treatment in Miami. I intend to return to optometry school once my treatment and recovery is complete.
How is life during treatment and the road to recovery?
I try to remain positive and upbeat as I currently undergo chemotherapy. I am attending information sessions on integrative wellness for cancer patients at UM Sylvester’s Comprehensive Center as well as workshops and support group meetings at the Cancer Support Center in Miami.
What has been the most difficult obstacle during this time?
The most difficult obstacle during this time has been finding a way to budget the costs of care with my living expenses.
How do you think this experience will influence your career as an optometrist?
This experience will influence my career as an optometrist by making me a stronger individual. I will have more insight on the impact of cancer drugs on vision.
How can we help?
I believe the power of prayer will be very helpful in getting my through this process. If readers are interested in helping financially I have a fundraising page at:
In order to continue to support Terry Ann, the students at the IAUPR School of Optometry have held several fundraisers to raise money for her treatments. “Today it may be a student in your school, but tomorrow it may be you” is a reminder that this can occur to any of us. Please show your support for this amazing fighter of cancer and increase awareness in your area!