PLAINS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — October is national breast cancer awareness month. As a joint reporting project with the Times Leader, Eyewitness News is helping shed light on the importance of prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of breast cancer.

The American cancer society estimates nearly 289,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed this year.

A Lackawanna County woman diagnosed last year with breast cancer is sharing her story to help encourage other women to be vigilant.

It’s good news this week for 34-year-old Monica Horvath.

Doctor asks, “No bumps? No lumps?”

Horvath responds, “No bumps. No lumps.”

You wouldn’t know it to look at her, but this mother of two has been through quite an ordeal.

“It’s scary. I mean, there was a good chance that I wasn’t going to be here,” Horvath told Eyewitness News.

In August of last year, she made a startling discovery.

“I noticed a lump through my bathing suit and I was just like this is odd. You know, this wasn’t, I’ve never noticed this before,” Horvath said.

It turned out to be stage 3 breast cancer. The diagnosis made no sense to her.

“I was very healthy. Very active. Always ate and followed a healthy diet, exercised. You know, very active, daily. Always went for a routine yearly physical,” Horvath told Eyewitness News.

In fact, she had a physical just a month before she discovered the tumor that doctors believe was growing inside her for a few years.

“Unfortunately, a routine blood work panel does not tell you if you have breast cancer,” Horvath explained.

What was also surprising? She was just 32 when she was diagnosed when most breast cancers occur in women 50 and older.

“Breast cancer in your 30s is possible. It is not as common,” said Dr. Jacqueline Oxenberg.

Geisinger Cancer Surgeon Jacqueline Oxenberg says Horvath also did not have the typical risk factors often associated with breast cancer like mutations to the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.

“We don’t know everything about genetics. While we’ve come a very, very long way we do know that genetics is not the only, the known genetic mutations that we have right now are not the only thing that can put people at risk for breast cancer,” Dr. Oxenberg explained.

Horvath’s cancerous tumor was too large for surgery.

She underwent six months of chemotherapy to shrink the tumor sufficiently and allow Dr. Oxenberg the ability to remove it.

She underwent surgery in early May here at Geisinger Wyoming Valley. Even though the cancerous tumor was found in her left breast, she made the decision to have both breasts removed.

What followed was six weeks of radiation and a fighting spirit to meet cancer head-on.

“This was not going to be the end of my life. I knew that I was still going to keep pushing. I was going to keep fighting and I’m still here,” Horvath said.

She credits a good support system and care team in what’s been to date a successful battle with cancer.

“She felt something. She got it addressed. It’s a treatable cancer. It’s a curable cancer, too. You know, so listening to your body and knowing your own risks and family risks, that’s really the message,” Dr. Oxenberg explained.

Horvath has her own message for women everywhere about breast cancer.

“Those routine and monthly self-breast exams are really important and that’s actually what saved me,” Horvath stated.

Horvath has a 10-year-old son and a 13-year-old daughter. Her teenage daughter will begin her screenings for breast cancer when she is 22.

You can read more about Horvath’s health journey in this Sunday’s edition of the Times Leader newspaper.