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Norma Zenteno Reunited with Her Father, Roberto Zenteno, After Brief Battle with Breast Cancer

By February 25, 2013

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We have lost a Latin jazz band leader, vocalist, and musician to breast cancer. Norma Zenteno, 60, of Houston, Texas had been diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer early this January. By January 17, she had been biopsied and told to stop playing guitar for a while. Norma got married to her partner Stephen Shaw on January 28th, 2013. She would start chemotherapy for the cancer soon afterwards.

Zenteno's band, including her brothers, continued to play their scheduled appearances. Once known not only for her music but also for her beauty and long dark hair, Norma Zenteno chose to cut her locks short before starting chemo. On February 4 her chemo port was implanted and treatments began on February 7. Just 13 days later, after having bad side effects, she was admitted to the hospital and taken to the ICU. Her kidneys  began to falter, so dialysis was tried. In the wee hours of the next morning, she went into cardiac arrest and was resuscitated. Doctors made tests and tried to see if a kidney infection was present. Test results were inconclusive. Her health continued to deteriorate, and on February 22, she passed away.

Her supportive family had put together a benefit for February 24,which became more of a memorial for Norma Zenteno. Her funeral will be held on Friday, March 1, 2013. Father Salvatore DeGeorge performed the ceremony and was also present in the hospital the day before she died.

This is really shocking to me. Nobody should go from Stage 2 to having a memorial service that quick. I am concerned about the communication between the family and the doctors about Norma Zenteno's diagnosis. What did the doctors tell this patient about her cancer? Did she know what might happen? Was that what sparked the wedding? Something was very aggressive about this tumor - and information like that should be made plain to the patient. Every patient and their supporters should know what they are facing and what to expect from the medical establishment. Demand a clear explanation of your diagnosis, and if you don't get it, please take time to go for a second opinion.

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February 27, 2013 at 8:34 am
(1) Laura Bentz says:

This is a sobering reminder of the seriousness of a cancer diagnosis, the treacherousness of treatments.

When I was given a Stage 2B diagnosis, in 2010, after sharing the news with family and friends one person sent me an email saying “I looked it up on widipedia; you’ll be fine!” And while clearly many of us are “fine” (or some version of that) after we recover from treatments, clearly, not all are!

I am very sorry for the loss of this talented musician. My heart goes out to her family, friends, fans, all who knew her, and all living with cancer and it’s after-effects.

February 27, 2013 at 10:03 am
(2) MK says:

This is really sad. Too fast and quick. This must be difficult for the families. May God gives you the strength! She is in a better place!!!

March 2, 2013 at 6:20 pm
(3) sms says:

What a tragedy! She was a musical icon in Houston and she will be dearly missed. Prayn for her family that Phillipians 4:7 peace. RIP Norma! may U and you father have a melodic reunion

March 3, 2013 at 1:37 am
(4) S.Fox says:

I really believed Norma would recover having stage 2 breast Cancer. When I heard the news of her passing with just beginning the Chemotherapy I was in total shock. I had a mother and a sister I lost to stage 4 cancer but we had time to prepare for their leave. Either way it’s not easy. Only the Lord know what really went wrong. The medical community must learn from this situation as well as all families. Research and educate yourselves with the disease and look for other opinions. Alternative medicine has had wonderful results for some people. RIP Norma

March 3, 2013 at 3:21 pm
(5) Charlotte Wolter says:

It doesn’t sound like she died from breast cancer. It sounds like the chemotherapy had a very serious effect on her kidneys. I don’t know if it was possible for doctors to assess her kidney function before chemo, but it seems to me that it should be part of the lab testing before chemo.
I wonder if she had earlier kidney issues, and, if so, I would be very surprised that her kidney function was not monitored better.
While in chemo, I noticed my urine was more brown than its usual yellow-green color, so clearly chemo had some effect on kidney function, but, luckily, I did not become seriously ill.
Chemo today is generally successful but it has such broad effects on the body. Any system that has a weakness, such as the kidneys, can be greatly damaged. That’s why we need better, more targeted treatments. There has been a recent improvement to Herceptin, a truly targeted treatment, that should make it even more effective in killing breast cancer cells. Let’s hope that trend continues.

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