fbpx
Maria and Teresita are sisters who run a family restaurant El Pasaje together
Maria and Teresita are sisters who run a family restaurant El Pasaje together | Photo courtesy of the sisters' family

Sisters battle cancer in their 80s, run restaurant in Buenos Aires

A few years ago, Teresita and I both got diagnosed with cancer. She found out first and had to take time off work for chemotherapy. Then it happened. One day, I went about my usual activities. Suddenly, I felt something odd and found a small lump in my breast.

Interview Subject
María del Carmen la Paz is 86 years old. She was born in Montevideo, Uruguay and since 1983 she has been in charge of her Restaurante El Pasaje in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Background Information
Breast cancer is a disease caused by the abnormal multiplication of cells in the breast that form a malignant tumor. It can affect any woman. The chances of it appearing increase with age, especially after the age of 50. Although the causes of breast cancer are unknown, it is recognized that some factors increase the risk of becoming ill.

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina ꟷ We opened our restaurant El Pasaje on a Saturday forty years ago. On that bright day in February, we decided to cook gnocchi, a classic cuisine in Buenos Aires. The aroma flooded the entire restaurant. Many people came in that day to sit and enjoy the atmosphere.

I heard the clinking of glass amidst laughter and watched customers delight in the food they tasted. Four decades later, my sister Teresita and I continue to cook at El Pasaje. I am 86 years old, and she is 82. We never stopped for a minute.

Woman makes her way from Uruguay to Argentina, finds her passion in the kitchen

My life did not always evolve around the restaurant. At 14 years old, I began working for a transport business in my home country of Uruguay. Not until 1983, at 43 years old, did I make the move to Argentina.

El Pasaje is located at Rojas 2050, C1416CPV CABA, Argentina | Photo courtesy of Maria and Teresita’s family

My husband operated a bar back home in Montevideo, so when we immigrated, he sold the business, and we used the money to start our new restaurant. We fell in love with the very first property we looked at in Buenos Aires. From the moment we walked through the doors, we knew it felt right. We returned to Uruguay to finish closing and on February 24, 1983, we settled in Argentina.

Read more immigration stories from Orato World Media.

The previous owners of the restaurant introduced us to our clientele, who became our friends over time. Those early days were marked with good luck. It began as a family business and remains that way. My mother cooked until she died, then Teresita took over. I never cooked for anyone but my family, but when my husband passed, I found my place in the restaurant. Today, I never leave the kitchen at El Pasaje. Even when they put a stent in me, I returned to work a few days later!

A sample of the food the sisters cook at El Pasaje | Photo courtesy of Maria and Teresita’s family

Teresita and I learned on the fly how to move our business forward. We soon made our way into the complex food industry in Buenos Aires. We special order our raw materials and ingredients like meat and eggs. My son helps with the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables from the Central Market. Every bit of food at El Pasaje remains homemade, as if we cooked for our family.

Sisters work, live, and face cancer together

A few years ago, Teresita and I both got diagnosed with cancer. She found out first and had to take time off work for chemotherapy. Then it happened. One day, I went about my usual activities. Suddenly, I felt something odd and found a small lump in my breast.

I went straight to the doctor who sat across from me and delivered the diagnosis.  I recall the next words: “There isn’t much hope.” Though a potential cure existed, the treatment would be long and serious. The doctor said they may have to remove my breast and I could go bald from the treatments.

An image from inside El Pasaje | Photo courtesy of Maria and Teresita’s family

I never felt afraid of cancer, and when I lost my hair, I accepted it. I believe physical and mental activities cure disease. Going to the doctor and having checkups remains necessary but being active helps recovery. My illness encourages me to fight. When I am on the move and working, I don’t think about ugly things or death. I stay active and only think about moving forward.

Read more stories out of Argentina from Orato World Media.

My sister and I live together next to the restaurant. We share all our time together, every day. We stay optimistic and rarely fight. There is hardly a debate over new recipes, and we remain optimistic that we will continue to run the restaurant for many years.

As long as our bodies remain resilient, nothing will take us away from the kitchen.

Translation Disclaimer

Translations provided by Orato World Media are intended to result in the end translated document being understandable in the end language. Although every effort is made to ensure our translations are accurate we cannot guarantee the translation will be without errors.

#GlobalCooperationNow

Pledge to be a #ConsciousCitizen today and demand #GlobalCooperationNow! by signing this petition. Sign Our Petition.

Image and Sound Designer, Integral Audiovisual and Journalistic Producer, writer, and teacher.

I started working when I was very young; Since 2001, I was a producer for different television programs, documentary films, radio, and generating creative content for different organizations and companies.

I won the award: "Nuevo Sudaca Border" with the microfiction book "Un Tigre con la Boca Abierta", for Eloisa Cartonera Editorial. I am passionate about telling stories and writing.