Six years later, she's a beacon of hope for those fighting the same battle. Her story, with the help of pink black jack tables, is spreading breast cancer awareness at the Island View Casino. When you think of casinos you think of roulette wheels and black jack tables. The last thing on a gamer's mind is breast cancer, but that all changed nearly six years ago when the Island View Casino's special project manager, Kathy Santiago, got some news that no one saw coming. Santiago says, "It was September of 2007 when the doctor called me into his office and said ‘I did not think I'd be telling you this right now, but it's cancer’.” In honor of Santiago's fight and breast cancer awareness month, the Island View Casino changed the look of a few black jack tables. These pink felted tables may not guarantee a win, but they do guarantee awareness about breast cancer along the Coast.
Jennifer Lee, an employee of Island View Casino, says, "To be able to take a step back away from the gaming, and realize there’s a bigger picture out there, that it’s all about the quality of life and being able to support this and show our support with the pink felts, is the least we could do." Santiago says she hopes the tables bring awareness for breast cancer and encourages women to get examined to catch cancer early. Santiago also says, "We've got customers that have said it makes a great impact and shows our support in the community.” After the doctor broke the news to Santiago, she says her life changed forever, and her first thought was of her daughter. Santiago says, "My daughter was a high school student. She had just entered her senior year, and my first thought is ‘I'm not going to be around to see her get married’. And I'm here today to let people know that just because you’re diagnosed with cancer, it’s not a death sentence." Through early detection and a strong support system, Santiago was able to beat breast cancer. She says, "My early detection is what saved my life. I chose to have a double mastectomy so the chances of a reoccurrence wouldn't affect the way I lived my life." Lee also says, "If this could happen to anyone who could make a difference and make people understand that life goes on, that you just pick up the pieces and keep running, we knew it would be her (Santiago).” In the end, Kathy Santiago hopes her story encourages other women to get examined and to know there is life after cancer. She says, "I've not seen my daughter get married yet, but I did get to see her graduate from college and high school, so that's my next step."