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Chesapeake breast cancer survivor recalls fight, breast center helping raise awareness

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Posted at 11:07 AM, Oct 21, 2021

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - September 25, 2018 may be more than three years ago, but for Chesapeake resident Lakysha Laing, it feels like yesterday.

“I was sitting in the chair, and Dr. Ruiz walked in. He pulled up the chair, and he advised me that had been diagnosed with breast cancer,” Laing told News 3.

She remembers one night watching a movie with her husband.

“I kind of brushed my hand across my chest and felt a raised skin,” she said. “At first, I thought it was a mosquito bite. My husband said, well, let's just get it checked out.”

She was already on track for her yearly mammogram, but she ended up calling for an emergency appointment.

“She confirmed what I had felt as being a raised skin. something that we should probably look into,” Laing said.

After tests, she remembers the day she got the news from breast surgeon, Dr. Antonio Ruiz, no one wants to hear.

“Thank God I had my husband with me, because when I was advised, I literally blanked out,” Laing said.

Laing does, however, remember one message from Dr. Ruiz.

“He [Dr. Ruiz] said, ‘You're going to get through it,” she said. “I felt that I was on the right path.”

READ: News 3 Anchor/Reporter Zak Dahlheimer helping fight breast cancer through the Real Men Wear Pink campaign

Dr. Ruiz is the Director of Chesapeake Regional Healthcare’s Breast Center.

“It is so difficult giving this information to folks,” Dr. Ruiz told News 3. “I tell my patients I try to treat them like I would want my family treated. I've had family members that have gone through cancer. I've had two that have gone through breast cancer. So, it hits home.”

The breast center has some of the latest technology to help with diagnosis, treatment and survivorship, including biopsy technology and a mobile mammography unit.

“To go out to the community, businesses, churches and reach out and be a presence there,” Ruiz said.

Dr. Ruiz said teamwork is also key.

“What I try to do is let them know that it's going to be okay,” Chesapeake Regional Healthcare Breast Center Breast Health Navigator Meg Shrader said.

For Shrader, her passion is personal.

“I am actually a breast cancer survivor, myself,” she said. “Hearing that you have cancer is never a good thing. Your world just stops. It really does.”

“What I try to do is guide the experience,” Shrader added. “I want patients to have a wonderful experience.”

An experience helping those like Laing survive and thrive, not just in October, but all year long.

“When I first walked in, I was scared, I was nervous, I didn’t know what to do,” Laing said. “But, through their guidance, I now know every time I step into this room, they're going to put me on the path to make sure I do whatever I need to do to remain in remission.”