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SPECIAL REPORT: Surviving breast cancer

American Cancer Society says in the U.S. one in eight women will develop breast cancer and the average median age for diagnosis is 62 - News 11's Mercedes Martinez reports

IMPERIAL COUNTY, Calif. (KYMA, KECY) - Only a very small number of women diagnosed with breast cancer are 45 years old, and even fewer are under 45.

Unfortunately, that was the case for one Calexico woman.

“I had just turned 36 years old. I was going into this stage of life wow I just passed my 35 years. I’m going into a different era of my life. All of a sudden, you know one of those days where you feel something strange in your body,” said 14-year breast cancer survivor Karla Flores.

Coming from a family history of breast cancer, Flores immediately called a doctor when she felt symptoms.

“I kinda felt a lump in my body and it was hurting,” explained Flores.

There were no available appointments for her until the next three months. She had to advocate for herself.

“I go oh no ma’am you need to see me otherwise I will die,” Flores told the doctor.

Soon enough Flores was scheduled in and after a biopsy procedure, it was determined she had breast cancer.

Flores went in with her armor of faith and courage as she went into battle facing surgery followed by chemo and radiation. Flores says it was an extensive journey.

“I think that whenever you’re not in peace or something else is happening in your life you tend to heal much slower.”

The side effects made the process far from easy for Flores.

“I kind of felt my hair every time I walked. Hair was falling, but it wasn’t like a strand or two it was big strands of hair,” she shared.

But despite the downfalls of the invasive disease, Flores is proud to say she is a 14-year cancer survivor and a strong advocate.

“I feel that I encourage a lot of people to go get screened to not be afraid. To understand that breast cancer cannot only happen to women but it can also happen to men,” said Flores.

According to the American Cancer Society, in the United States, one in 833 men will get breast cancer.

While the statistic is not as high as it is for women it is still important to acknowledge. And of course, getting a check-up cannot be stressful enough.

Iliana Gomez-Ramirez, a family nurse practitioner at the Calexico Wellness Center said, “We advise that a lot of people do their screenings on time because during COVID a lot of people lacked their screening.”

If you don’t have insurance, don’t worry. Some local providers in Imperial County are here to help such as the Calexico Wellness Center.

Calexico Wellness Center CEO and Co-founder Blanca Morales shared, “We’re open from 8 to 5 and we always have our phone available to anyone who has questions in regards to their health.”

One more thing Flores says after her experience is, “Now I say cancer is, there’s more to it. Technology is so advanced. If you go on time. If you wait longer, consequences can come around."

Links for cancer resources in Imperial and Yuma counties are provided below:

Article Topic Follows: Special Reports

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Mercedes Martinez

Mercedes Martinez joined the KSWT team as anchor/producer in October 2020. You can catch her on 13 On Your Side at 4:00pm.

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