(Laura Simon) [Order this photo]
Years battling breast cancer: Technically, she's cancer-free. She was diagnosed Oct. 14, 2011, and had a bilateral mastectomy Dec. 17. She's still going through reconstruction. The cancer was caught very early, so it hadn't attached to the chest wall. The doctors are 99.9 percent sure it will never come back.
The hardest part: There's a couple things. The tests I had to go through were very grueling and very painful. I had (three) biopsies done and they were all different -- one in the office, one X-ray biopsy and one where they had to put me under in surgery. The X-ray biopsy is really difficult on any patient because you lay on a table (on your stomach), your boob is through a hole, they inject a numbing agent in your boob and then stick a needle up through your boob, using an X-ray the whole time to find the lump. It was so close to my chest wall that they couldn't numb all of it. The deeper biopsies were very painful. Right before any breast surgery they send you to X-ray and you get injected with a dye. The machine in surgery finds radioactive dye, which shows where the cancer is so they make sure they get it all. I had four shots (of dye) around the areola on both (breasts).
When I found out (I had cancer), that was a very big hit. Most of my family has been diagnosed, but not until they were 90. I was the youngest in my family to be diagnosed with breast cancer. I was at work and (the doctor) didn't realize where I was -- when he told me, I was in the middle of work. The first thing they tell a patient is that you're not going to hear anything I say after I say the first couple words. He was right. As soon as I heard the word "cancer" I didn't hear anything else. I handed the phone to my boss and said "I need to take this outside."
Advice for others: If you have any inkling of anyone in the family who might have any type of cancer, not just breast cancer, get tested. Test to see if you're positive for breast cancer, ovarian cancer or passing it on to your kids. Get (the test) early. The earlier you detect it, the less likely you are to have chemo or radiation, and be able to remove it and not have it come back.