In Search Of...Steppin' Out in Pink

Onalaska Mother of Five Battles Breast Cancer

Published On: Sep 09 2011 08:48:00 AM CDT

LA CROSSE, Wis.  -- According to the American Cancer society one in 8 women will develop breast cancer.  So when you come from a family with 6 women...the odds are stacked against you.

Gundersen Lutheran physical therapist and mother of five girls Laura Schill has always been about as healthy as they come.  "No problems. No breast cancer in my family. Nothing."

But all that changed in February of 2010 when she was called back in to her doctor after a routine mammogram.  "When I went in, they put my mammogram on the screen and I really thought I had breast cancer.  It was the next afternoon I got the diagnosis."

It would be easy to wallow in self pity...or scream out 'why?!'  But Laura took a different approach.  "Why shouldn't it be me? Why should it be someone else? Would I want one of my daughters to have it? No. So I was okay with it."

Then it came time to tell her 5 daughters.  "That was the worst thing in my life.  The youngest one had a BB game that night and the 2nd youngest was a coach and so as we were leaving..."

"We get in the car and we're just starting to pull away and my mom said, 'girls I have to talk to you about something.' She said, 'I have breast cancer. It's gonna be okay. We're going to do everything we can to get rid of it.  "That was a very hard ride home."

"Did you ever let your mind go to the worst? Oh yes. You think of that and you get upset. But she was strong for all of us."

"You want to fight it right away. I had a lot of things coming up in my life and we've got a big family. Hopefully in the future a lot of grandchildren and I want to be around for them."

She had a lumpectomy followed by chemotherapy and radiation and on August 20th, 2010 Laura was deemed cancer free.  "The most relieving day was when she was done with her radiation and they have a bell you ring once you're done and that made me calm and it's done."

Today, Laura is doing what she can to spread the word about the importance of monthly self checks and mammograms.  "It's not worth taking the chance. It doesn't take a long time. Please go do it. You owe it to the rest of the people in your life to go do it. And that's one of the ways you can get diagnosed early."

This weekend, you will find Laura among the thousands of people walking in Gundersen Lutheran's Steppin' Out in Pink event. She walks for herself, she walks for those who have lost their battle, but most importantly, she walks for her five daughters.  "It's very heartwrenching to think 'am I going to be giving this to my daughters?' They have reassured me that they will be more careful and take care of themselves and hopefully by that point it will be gone! We can hope!"