Member story: How Rebecca Castillo saved her own life

March 06, 2024

2-minute read

Rebecca Castillo's family photo with husband and two children

Chances are there’s a woman in your life like Rebecca Castillo. She loves providing probation officers with skills to better assist clients in the community as a curriculum developer with Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). As a wife and working mom to two sons, ages 9 and 18, Castillo says, “Everything else is a priority–your family, your home, learning a new job–except you.”

Last year, Castillo knew in the back of her mind that she wasn’t as healthy as she should be. She’d been putting off preventive exams for a while. She needed some coaxing to find a new primary care provider and add a doctor’s appoint to a long list of other, usually more fun and interesting, things to take care of.

But, she felt motivated by TDCJ’s Director of Training and Leader Development Division David Yebra, who champions Employees Retirement System’s (ERS) benefits, particularly the WondrTM Health program. She signed up for Wondr, and “was learning accountability and all the ways to take care of myself.”

Finally, she went in for her overdue annual physical, at no cost with her HealthSelect of Texas® medical insurance. Her doctor pushed her to get a mammogram. When that revealed a possible issue, Castillo got another mammogram, which led to a diagnosis of Stage 2B breast cancer. Fortunately, they caught it early. Thanks to Wondr, “I was in a good place mentally and physically,” and better able to handle the diagnosis.

Castillo knows it can feel like there’s never a good time to get to the doctor, so reminds us that “there’s never a good time to have cancer. But there is a good time to get diagnosed, and that’s early. Then you have a fighting chance.”

During her 18-month treatment and recovery, she and her family had access (via her Health Select of Texas insurance) to a nurse and social worker. She also had strong support from her Human Resources office. She is grateful that ERS and HealthSelect were part of the community that rode the roller-coaster of treatment with her.

Following surgery, Castillo is now cancer-free. Medical science can have all the advanced treatments, but it was able to help Castillo only because she showed up for herself. “I saved my own life,” Castillo says.

She hopes everyone will use their ERS-provided health insurance benefits to get their recommended preventive care like regular physicals, mammograms and colonoscopies, then encourage friends and family to do so for themselves.

Employees Retirement System of Texas Walk and Talk Podcast logo

Listen to Rebecca Castillo tell her story in this episode of the ERS Walk and Talk Podcast and watch her in this ERS webinar.