Meet the Models, SoCal: Sarah Lopez

Sarah Lopez was an ER doctor in LA during the thick of COVID. It was a strenuous time, made more stressful when an after work shower revealed a lump in her breast: “it woke me up. It woke me up in a way that I kind of knew was different.” She was able to get in to see her doctor right away and a shocking triple negative, invasive ductal carcinoma breast cancer diagnosis followed. Of that time Sarah says, “it hits you so hard and she’s telling me all of this through zoom after one of my shifts and all I could think about was, is this cancer? I had to hear her say that word.”

What followed was months of treatment, but not before telling her three children- ages 8, 6 and 4. Understanding that her children were very astute, emotional beings, she began to find ways to empower them to feel like they were helping her heal, whether that be bringing her food or simply giving her good morning kisses. When Sarah eventually lost her hair, she was confronted with the shift from feeling like she was simply going through something to “oh my god, I am a cancer patient.”

In all, the experience has given her an appreciation for humans: “I had to continue being a doctor, a wife, a sister, a daughter, a mother- and all with cancer. It was amazing, all the support I received during that time. I am acutely aware of how hard it is. Myself and my husband are both physicians and we struggled, so I can’t imagine the heartbreak of navigating a diagnosis without those same resources and then figuring out what to make for dinner.”

Her cancer journey has also impacted how she approaches her career. Sarah notes that she uniquely understands that “illness is a full time job for the individual going through it. It affects somebody 24/7.” It is because of this understanding that she now is extra certain to be clear in communication with her own patients, makes an effort to write things down for them and tries to have family there to support those for whom she has to give bad news to. It’s a feeling she knows all too well.

On the positive side, Sarah notes that post cancer, she feels “unlocked from my reservations I had put on myself. I am trying to be more authentic, connect with people and not be so scared about what people think.” Indeed, she found the most power in sharing her journey. Her honesty prompted lots of reach out from women who had going through the same thing, or who were inspired to get their mammograms because of Sarah’s story. In the end, its connections like those that make Sarah most proud: “it’s all about hope.”