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Fighting breast cancer and being your own advocate

Posted at 3:59 PM, Oct 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-17 20:35:32-04

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In Arizona, nearly 4900 people get diagnosed with breast cancer every year, of those, approximately 810 will die from the disease. On October 22nd, thousands of people will participate in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk at Armory Park raising money to find a cure.

At KGUN9 we are profiling survivors who have battled breast cancer and beat it. One local woman is alive today because of her persistence.

At just 26 years old, in 1976 Hoffmann was living in Illinois, married with a 2-year-old daughter when she suddenly discovered a lump in her left breast.

"I was very sad. I had one less breast. It was a big deal, and I was nervous about the whole thing, " said Hoffmann.

 It was stage one breast cancer. Hoffman had a mastectomy and was cancer free. However, 14 years later Hoffmann would have to deal with the nightmare of breast cancer again.

"I'm 40 years old it's 1990, and I'm feeling an uncomfortable feeling in my breast, like a crackling. I went to the doctor he said let's get a mammogram. We did a mammogram and he said you're fine," said Hoffmann.

Hoffmann says she went home and waited for a few weeks , but she knew something didn't feel right. She says she returned to the doctor several more times and was dismissed.

"There was a new doctor in town, he was a surgeon, and I went to him. He took me seriously, he did a needle biopsy in all four quadrants of my breast, all four quadrants of my breast had cancer. I was scared to death," said Hoffmann.

The doctor told her she had Stage 3B breast cancer and that she shad a fifty-fifty chance of living. Hoffman says she wasn't ready to die.   

" I said I can't die. I have 16- year- old daughter at home, it's just not an option ," added Hoffmann.

Hoffmann's husband and daughter were by her side the entire time. Now, a breast cancer survivor, Hoffmann says being her own advocate saved her life.

" It's so important that you don't take no for an answer when you think something is not right. You go to doctor to doctor until you get satisfaction. It saved my life on both instances," said Hoffmann.

Hoffmann is a volunteer for the American Cancer Society's Reach to Recovery Program ,supporting cancer patients. She's been helping out for 22 years and says she hopes more survivors do the same.

Tucson is dire need of volunteers. No one knows what it's like to go through a cancer experience unlike other cancer survivors, and their insight is so valuable to other patients. If you're interested,  breast cancer survivors can sign up online at, or call the National Cancer Information Center at 800-227-2345 (reach a real person 24 hours a day, 365 days a year).