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Shes living example of value of early detection
Chris Pinnavaia checks out the medal that breast cancer survivor Cheryl Campos who was diagnosed in January and will wrap up her radiation treatment on Friday was given when she spoke at the survivors reception last month for the Manteca Relay for Life. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL

• WHAT: Manteca 24-Hour Relay
• WHERE: Sierra High stadium
• WHEN: Saturday, April 28, from 9. a.m., to Sunday, April 29, at 10 a.m.
• MORE INFO: Visit, type Manteca in the search bar in the top right corner of the screen and click search.

Early detection might very well have saved Cheryl Campos’ life.

It was during a routine annual mammogram that something abnormal appeared in her left breast.

Instead of panicking the doctor told the Kaiser Permanente nurse to come back six months later to see if it was still present in the developed pictures.

That was in January when she was diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma In Situ. It is a type of breast cancer that initially starts in the ducts and spreads throughout the breast if not discovered in time.

Her doctors, she said, believe there’s a 99 percent chance that the combination of surgery – where they removed the cancerous area but were able to preserve the breast. Radiation will take care of the cancer.

“I was nervous and scared when I first heard the diagnosis,” Campos said. “Some people cry but I was just trembling. It’s not the news you’re expecting to hear. And even though things are looking good right now there’s always that thing in the back of your mind telling you that it can come back.

“But today I’m good and it’s nice to be able to say that.”

The road to get to where she is today, however, hasn’t been an easy one.

For the first six weeks of a two-month long radiation stint Campos tried to keep life as normal as possible. She continued to work even though the process drained much of her energy. What started off feeling like a sun burn on her left breast quickly became a full-scale burn – requiring an escalating course of treatment that made the days tolerable.

With her boyfriend Chris Pinnavaia and her children by her side, she weathered the 30 treatments and will wrap everything up on Friday.

Plans are already in the works for a barbecue this weekend with family and friends.

And because Campos is so willing to open up about her experience she has taken a role in helping to promote the upcoming American Cancer Society Relay for Life. Manteca’s event will be held at Sierra High School on April 28-29.

She also spoke at the survivor’s reception two weeks ago at the Main Street Café. She serves as a living example of how early detection and vigilance on the park of women can truly save lives.

“I had a friend, Dan, that asked me to speak there and I didn’t have that long, crazy story like other people did and I was hesitant at first,” Campos said. “But he pointed out that because of a mammogram I was able to detect my cancer early and I could show that you don’t have to go through what so many others have to go through.

“It was a great experience.”

After spending the last few weeks completely drained, Campos says that she’s looking forward to getting back into somewhat of a regular routine and can’t wait to participate as a member of a team in the upcoming relay – a massive fundraiser for the nearly 100-year-old organization.

Proving that cancer doesn’t have to be a death sentence, she said, is what she hopes to get across to the people that she meets.

“I’m looking forward to being there with friends and family and people who get what it’s like to be in that position,” she said. “I think an event like this can be a celebration about the spirit of these people that are fighting.

“My mom died of cancer when I was young, but it doesn’t kill all of us and it doesn’t have to. This event shows that.”

Over $67,000 has been pledged so far. For more information about Manteca’s Relay for Life event, visit, type Manteca in the search bar in the top right corner of the screen and click search.