Over the last month you've probably noticed plenty of pink as folks don the color to support breast cancer research. For one young couple it's a time to be thankful as an early diagnosis has led to a positive outcome.
Working as a nurse at Avera St. Luke's Hospital, Laura Larson is no stranger to disease. So when she felt a lump in her breast she immediately had it checked out.
"So I scheduled my mammogram and they did a few other tests within a couple days they were giving the results back to me and it was looking highly suspicious for breast cancer." Said Laura Larson.
"I was shocked also and didn't know what was going to happen next." Said Laura's husband, Cody Larson.
Laura's mammogram confirmed the doctor's suspicion, it was breast cancer. Laura decided to have a bilateral mastectomy just ten days after her diagnosis followed by six months of chemotherapy.
"You know I remember sitting in that chemo chair for that first round and just thinking I'm 33 years old this is not happening! How am I going to get through this? I have two small children, we're supposed to be in the prime of our life and I have to go through this and I have to try to explain that to them? How are we going to do this?" Said Laura Larson.
Friends and family surrounded the Larson's with support. The hospital also embraced Laura as she had changed from the caregiver to the patient.
"I mean it just made me realize how awesome this facility is, I was treated with awesome care and I don't feel it was just because I work here or he (Cody) works here I feel like they truly treat everybody like that." Said Laura Larson.
After an intense 6 month fight Laura is now a cancer survivor.
"As of right now I am cancer free and I just do some maintenance medication that I'll be on for about five years or so but I feel excellent it feels great!" Said Laura Larson.
Laura was too young to start annual mammograms, but it was the self exams that may have saved her life.
"Self breast exams or mammograms are not a high priority for women we're just too busy and everything but if you hear somebody that they know or someone like my age that was diagnosed so early and so young they're more apt to perform most things and do those things." Said Laura Larson.
After seeing what his wife went through Cody stepped up and decided to enroll in CPS-3 the life-long cancer study.
"You think of your kids you want to try and do whatever you can to help them you hope you're helping them by getting in the study and protecting other people and protect their children by whatever they can find out you know, the more research the better!" Said Cody Larson.
Cancer has brought the Larson's closer than ever and they don't take any day for granted.
Laura hopes her brush with cancer shows women that mammograms and self exams are not just lip service; they are life-changing.
"If it affects one person or if it touches one person that's all I want it to do!" Said Laura Larson.
Laura was also tested for the BRCA gene that leads to breast cancer, her results came back negative. For more information about breast cancer and early prevention just call 877-AT-AVERA.