After a strange feeling under her armpit prompted a doctors appointment, Laurie Ruiz was sent for a mammogram and ultrasound, quickly followed by a needle biopsy. Her self-discovery paid off in that Laurie’s cancer was caught early- stage 1, estrogen positive breast cancer. She remembers her doctor saying, ““if you’re to get breast cancer, this is the best kind.” The diagnosis came in May of 2008 and by July of that year, Laurie was booked for a mastectomy, which revealed three tumors. A single mother at the time and anxious to get back to work, Laurie’s chief focus was a fast recovery, so she opted for expanders. In September of 2008, she began six rounds of chemotherapy. She looks back with gratefulness on her support system, including her ex-husband who she says was “so so supportive during that time.” Her core group of friends stepped up to provide support, as well as her boss: “Any day I had chemo, it was all hands on deck with my former husband and I had a great group of core friends.” She credits her mentality for getting through the hard days saying, “we were very strong and we managed to rally- one day at a time, which was my motto. Get through this day and see what tomorrow holds”
By December of 2009, Laurie received her implants and though she continued medication for five years, she has had a clean bill of health since. Though always open about her experience, Laurie is a self-proclaimed compartmentalizer and notes that breast cancer does not play a front of mind role in her day-to-day anymore, but when a co-worker was diagnosed, she was there for support and guidance: “any time you help someone through this, it is healing.” What will always remain a mystery is her pre-cursors for the cancer, given that she is adopted. It serves as a good reminder for her, and even for those who are able to trace family history, how important self-checks and scheduled mammograms are.