Laura Norwood is our hardworking and warm-spirited customer service representative. She has been part of our La Tortilla Factory family for 7 years. Last December, not even a year ago, Laura was diagnosed with invasive lobular carcinoma (breast cancer). Laura has generously agreed to share her story this October as we come together to *fundraise and honor all of the bad-ass (excuse our French, but come on, they are) women and men who have undergone the journey.  After the interview we celebrated Laura’s 5 month and 29 day remission (her last radiation treatment was April 27, 2015), with a pink champagne toast.

Here is her story:

How did you discover your cancer?

My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 56 so because of the genetic ties I started getting preventative mammograms at age 36. I had just turned 40 when they discovered the cancer at one of those preventative mammograms. They saw a spot that wasn’t there from the last image they took 2 years prior.

How was it treated?

I was diagnosed early – at stage 1, so my doctors recommended a lumpectomy, genetic testing (to be sure it wasn’t in the genes), and 6 weeks of radiation treatments. Luckily, they were able to remove the tumor with clear margins during the lumpectomy and they found no cancer cells in the lymph nodes. Chemotherapy was ruled out through additional testing of the tumor.

What was the most shocking thing about the discovery of your cancer?

Because it wasn’t genetically linked, I was shocked and confused on how I got it at such a young age.  I thought, why me? There’s no rhyme or reason. It was frustrating that there wasn’t an answer. It was like tag, you’re it.

What was the most difficult part of the diagnosis?

The waiting. Upon my diagnosis I went straight into fight and survival mode and I just wanted the cancer out, but I had to undergo a series of tests and wait for the results to determine the proper treatment. I was diagnosed in December and the surgery wasn’t until February. I was concerned about the cancer advancing.

How did you take care of yourself while going through treatment?

Prayer. I prayed a lot with my husband and my children. It strengthened our relationship and our faith in GOD.  I never questioned God’s plan or blamed Him for this disease.  Talking with my mother and Darlene Tamayo about their experiences with breast cancer played a huge part in dealing with the diagnosis and knowing what to expect throughout my journey.  And I kept a routine; I kept on being a mom and a wife, and I kept working, even through my treatments. 


laura with fam

Laura during her 5th week of radiation with her husband, Frank, and children at Howarth Park in Santa Rosa, CA.  “I was probably feeling my worst here, but Frank kept me going. We would walk 4 miles on Friday evenings to keep me motivated,” remembers Laura.


What was the most unexpected learning from the experience?

How strong I was and where my support came from – who’s there for you in your darkest moments, you know?  What I appreciated most were the people who took the initiative and said, “here’s how I can help.” And then just did it. Whether it was taking me to my radiation appointments like Shallin Tamayo did, or Kelsey from accounting did, or making meals like my friends and La Tortilla Factory family did, it was a relief to have someone else make a decision so that I could concentrate on healing.

What is your advice for woman regarding breast cancer prevention and/or treatment?

If there’s a history of cancer in your family, talk to your doctor or OBG about preventative mammograms. My cancer would not have been caught with a self-exam, so mammograms are so important. I feel so blessed that mine was as small as it was.

group cheers facingA pink champagne toast to Laura! Laura (center) with her team at La Tortilla Factory. 


1130 x 500 Laura Hero Image

*During the month of October, we’re donating $0.25 cents of each limited edition pink package to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) with a minimum donation of $25,000. Join us in supporting the research necessary to #BeTheEnd of breast cancer. In stores now.