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Oct 4, 2011 7:33 AM

Breast cancer survivor urges women to do self-exams

TUCSON - October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and here at KVOA, we are teaming with the Susan G. Komen Foundation of Southern Arizona to get women checking themselves for breast cancer.

Marcela Vasquez had a lot on her plate in 2000. She was in between jobs, in the middle of a divorce, and taking care of her two young boys. So finding a lump in her breast was bad timing in her life, but good timing when it came to the cancer.

She says in her first mammogram, the doctors found nothing and told her to come back in a year. But Marcela says she just did not feel right. She went for a second opinion at St. Elizabeth's of Hungary, who provides healthcare to the uninsured.

The doctor there recommended a biopsy, right as Marcela landed a job teaching at the University of Arizona. Once insured, she got her biopsy, which came back positive for cancer. She had her lumpectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation...and survived to tell other women the importance of checking yourself.

"Do your own exams once in a while when you're taking a shower. You never know. I was lucky that my tumor was very superficial, so I felt it without even looking for it. You never know. Nobody is exempt from this," Vasquez said.

She has been cancer-free now for about ten years and she is still teaching Anthropology at the U of A.

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