Heather Salazar, Diagnosed at 31
Heather Salazar, CEO of Pink Ribbon Girls and a mother of four, found a lump in her breast while doing a self-exam in the shower just before a weekend getaway with her husband to celebrate their anniversary. "I wasn't worried at all," she told POPSUGAR. "I had just turned 31, and I really thought I was invincible." But a trip to her ob-gyn followed by an ultrasound and biopsy led to a breast cancer diagnosis. "I was in shock," said Heather, now 45. "I couldn't feel my legs, and I couldn't stand up. I called my husband and couldn't even speak." What's more, the couple had just adopted their fourth kid after the child's mother passed away from the same breast cancer Heather had (though hers was at an earlier stage).
"I still don't feel like cancer was a gift. Quite honestly, if it was a gift I would return it. But it did teach me that life is fragile, and we never know when our expiration date will be," she said. "It lit a fire inside that helped me find my mojo and my purpose, and brought strong, empowering women into my life that have changed my outlook. It has taught me that brave people show up scared, but brave people keep on going." Heather also learned from personal experience that you're never too young to get cancer. "I was diagnosed at 31, and my adopted daughter's mother died of breast cancer at 23," she said. "Do your self-exam early and often! If you do find yourself diagnosed with breast cancer, always get a second, third, or even fourth opinion to ensure you understand your disease and your options."