Heart of the Valley: Breast cancer survivor discusses importance of screenings

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Weslaco resident Laura Saenz is many things.

She’s a survivor, a mother, a daughter, an educator, and a survivor.

Saenz's battle with Stage Two breast cancer started with her annual mammogram in the summer of 2019.

But it took seven months, two more mammograms with ultrasounds, an MRI and a biopsy before doctors knew for certain what she was up against.

The local diagnosis came in January 2020, with MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston confirming the diagnosis the following month.

Saenz made immediate plans for a March 2020 lumpectomy. But by the time the surgery occurred, the novel coronavirus outbreak started shutting down parts of the nation.

COVID-19 was new, unknown, and unnerving, much like Saenz’s cancer. And hospitals were not allowing visitors.

Saenz, who used to run 5ks, 10ks, and half-marathons, found herself holed up at home.

“I lived with a single mastectomy with no reconstruction for almost two years," Saenz recalled. “Over time, it certainly took a toll on me. I was hiding behind very baggie clothes."

More and more people who are diagnosed with breast cancer are beating the disease. Death rates have dropped nearly 40% over the last 30 years.

But the key to survival, experts say, is early detection.

Watch the video above for the full story. 


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