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Race for the Cure helped breast cancer survivor find her cure

September 13, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Getting diagnosed with breast cancer is difficult at any age, and for one Lake Elsinore woman, it was especially daunting.

But thanks to the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, 40-year-old Sonia Briseno really did find her cure.

"If it wasn't for Komen, I'm not here right now. I was alone, single mother with two gorgeous girls, I got to be strong for them," she said.

In 2008, Briseno was 36 and too young for mammogram screening. But she felt something was wrong with her left breast. She had no insurance, so she went to Tijuana to get a mammogram.

"It was breast cancer, stage two," she said.

Oncologist Jessica Rhee says besides a lump too few women know the signs.

"There are many different changes that can be observed in the breast: Changes in the skin, redness, nipple discharge," she said.

Because she was young and Latina, Briseno says it was difficult to find help and information. White Memorial's Dr. Reymundo Romero says 90 percent of his practice is Latina.

"In general, they don't want to talk about the 'C word' -- cancer. It's a private thing," he said.

With nowhere to turn, Briseno heard about the Race for the Cure. There she met the right people and found the resources she needed.

She was diagnosed at a Komen-funded clinic. Briseno had a mastectomy and chemo. Today, she's cancer free. The state also offers a program to help uninsured breast cancer patients.

"The funds that are raised by the race are used to provide grant monies to community programs that really are the safety nets," said Rhee.

And that's why Sonia is an outreach volunteer for her community. She knows as a survivor, she has a responsibility to raise awareness in the hopes of saving more women like her.

"I find the people to share my story, and I discover that I'm not alone," she said.


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