I’m the One
For the Breast of Us
By Veronica Laurel
Gerome Ogeris Photography
One in eight women is diagnosed with breast cancer, and in January 2020, I found out I was the one. I am grateful to work for CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health System, which offers comprehensive care through a network of hospitals. As an associate, I see my colleagues living our mission every day; I know how dedicated our teams are, but experiencing the work they do from the other side – as a patient – solidified the fact that our associates truly embody our core values. My cancer experience started with my annual mammogram at a CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital. That was followed by diagnostic screenings, ultrasounds, a biopsy, and an MRI. I had my mastectomy at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital – Westover Hills. The care I received was exceptional.
The wonderful medical and surgical teams at Texas Oncology helped me navigate my treatment plan, from chemotherapy to radiation to five surgeries. They truly provide compassionate care. After active treatment, I decided to forgo reconstruction surgery and stay flat. I did not want additional surgeries and was ready to start living my life. I have heard horror stories from other survivors whose doctors would not allow aesthetic flat closure, claiming that they would not feel whole or like a woman. I’m grateful that my team at Texas Oncology listened to me, talked with me about all of my options, and allowed me make the choice that was right for me.
When I started working at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa in 2013, one thing I focused on was fundraising for unfunded mammograms provided through the CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Mobile Mammography Unit. With the Friends of CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Foundation team, I learned the statistics, the need for mammograms, the disparities in care for the underserved, and more. When I became the statistic, it sharpened my focus, and now I know firsthand how important screenings are for women and men.
As a survivor, I found that helping others helped me with my healing and emotional well-being. I still work with the foundation team to raise funds, not only for unfunded mammograms but for women’s health. I serve as an ambassador with For the Breast of Us, an organization created to empower women of color affected by breast cancer through education, advocacy, and community.
Advocating for the importance of mammograms, providing information to women who are newly diagnosed or contemplating aesthetic flat closure, and just being available to those who have questions about breast cancer boosts my energy. It is a healing component that doesn’t come on a prescription pad.
October is breast cancer awareness month, and it’s a great time to act. Schedule your annual mammogram. Make a donation to fund a mammogram for someone in need. Donate to fund research.
I was the one in eight, and while it completely changed my life path, I’ve learned and I’ve grown, and I’m grateful for the direction I’m headed in now.
For information about the CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Friends Foundation, visit: