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‘It had already spread… without me feeling anything’; mother and daughter breast cancer survivors encourage regular screenings

Breast Cancer Survivors
Mom and daughter who survived breast cancer and urge others to keep up with screenings.

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- An El Paso mother and daughter's bond goes beyond blood. They're both nurses and now, they're both breast cancer survivors.

"I knew that I had to be strong and I was going to go through all these challenges, but I knew that I could do it if they could do it," Maria Reyes said.

Oncology nurse Reyes was used to helping patients through chemotherapy. In 2009, the tables turned: she was going through it herself after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

"All my kids, they all shaved their heads for me when I was going through treatment," she said.

A year later, Reyes was met with another shock. Her daughter, Kristol Veach, was diagnosed too at just 31 years old.

"I had just gone for my annual with my physician and he knew my mom's history and because of that, he went ahead and ordered a mammogram for me, just so I could get a baseline mammogram," Veach said. "The very first one that I ever did was abnormal."

Both women are now urging others to keep up with self-checks and annual screenings and exams.

"If I wouldn't have had the mammogram, who knows what my journey would have been like," Veach said. "It had already spread to my lymph nodes and that was without me feeling anything."

"I see a lot of people that are very scared and I know mammograms are scary," Reyes said. "But you have to do it so that you can see if there's anything going on, especially if you do feel something."

Both nurses are now both survivors.

"What I did when I was going through treatment is I would make dance videos before every chemo," Veach said. "Even though I was nervous about it, I had seen my mom go through this and I felt like I could do this."

"I really want others to make sure that they're checking their breasts, knowing their bodies and to know that they're not alone. There's tons of support out there," Veach said.

Physicians say the earlier they find a problem, the better chance they have at saving a life. According to the American Cancer Society, women between the ages of 40 and 44 should have the option to start screening with a mammogram every year. Women 45 to 54 should get them every year. Women who are 55 and older can switch to a mammogram every other year, or they can choose to continue yearly mammograms, according to the American Cancer Society.

Women of all ages can begin self-exams. The American Cancer Society says breast cancer can be detected due to symptoms like a lump in the breast. You can read more information about screenings here.

Article Topic Follows: Breast Cancer

Madeline Ottilie

Madeline Ottilie is a reporter on Good Morning El Paso and co-anchors ABC-7 at noon.


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