It's the word no one wants to hear from their doctor, let alone a 25-year old mother of two.
"He said well there's cancer. There's cancer in the lymph nodes so now we need to see where it's coming from." Said Doris Esparza.
A lump in Doris' armpit turned out to be stage four breast cancer. To make matters worse she had no insurance and was left struggling for options.
"I mean I tried all of these programs through Medicaid, the federal and state risk pools, I tried almost everything." Said Esparza.
Doris stayed positive and eventually was able to get Medicaid coverage and a referral to the experts at Avera Cancer Institute in Sioux Falls. With an aggressive cancer and only a four month window of Medicaid coverage; Doris had her surgery expedited to just two weeks after finishing chemotherapy.
"I had a right-side mastectomy because if I would've waited the traditional four weeks they would've done a bilateral or double mastectomy but since Dr. Reiland didn't want to risk infection she just cut without whatever she had to." Said Esparza.
The surgery was a success, but the journey was only half finished.
"They said well the radiation is every day, it's five days a week. So I said wow, I can't come from Wagner to Sioux Falls every day!" Said Esparza.
Doris still had to commute to radiation treatments, just not as far. Dr. Michael Peterson at the Avera Sacred Heart Cancer Center in Yankton took over her care for the last lap.
"You always try to understand what it would be like to be 20-something and have that cancer diagnosis and think about what you would want done for yourself." Said Dr. Peterson.
After six weeks of radiation, Doris is a cancer survivor and an inspiration.
"It feels so good! I mean I'm even rocking this hairdo! I had no hair before!" Said Esparza.
"When you see people with that much inner strength going through something like that it makes you feel good about being in this field." Said Dr. Peterson.
Doris' brush with cancer was extremely rare, but shows that cancer doesn't discriminate.
"I didn't have any family history of breast cancer, they did genetic testing I do not have any of the genetic factors to get breast-cancer but it still happened." Said Esparza.
So this young mom now encourages everyone to be in tune with their bodies, especially the 20-something's like her.
Doris finished her final radiation treatment in October and is glad her husband and two children finally have their mom back. For more information about cancer services just call 877-AT-AVERA.