Cancer survivor is on a mission to save other women’s lives

Apr 5, 2018, 6:28 PM | Updated: 8:46 pm

MURRAY— Yas Simonian has a passion for life. You can often find her dancing and snapping her fingers to Greek music as she cooks in her kitchen.

Today, Yas Simonian, a 13-year breast cancer survivor, enjoys dancing to Greek music in her kitchen as she cooks.

She is also passionate about one more thing: mammograms. Simonian is a 13-year breast cancer survivor and credits her life to routine screening.

“Go get a mammogram because it saves lives. It did mine,” she said.

Simonian went in for her annual screening one year and was not expecting unusual news.

“You couldn’t see it, you couldn’t feel it. My tumor was not palpable,” she said.

But she got a call back from Intermountain Healthcare’s Dr. Brett Parkinson who identified cancer.

He told Simonian, “You came in at just the right time.” She credits her life to Dr. Parkinson’s eagle eye and staff at Intermountain Medical Center’s Breast Care Center. She said Parkinson has an ability to see things other people cannot.

Although it was subtle, Dr. Brett Parkinson identified cancer on Simonian’s ultrasound 13 years ago.

After a mastectomy, chemotherapy, and reconstructive plastic surgery, Simonian is now cancer free.

“I wouldn’t have been here now if I didn’t go first,” she said.

Simonian’s story isn’t unique though. Too many women in Utah fail to get screened.

“We (Utah) usually rank 46th through 50th in the United States for screening compliance,” Parkinson said.

After her own experience, Simonian has become an advocate for women’s health. In response to Utah’s low screening numbers, Simonian exclaimed, “Utah moms, what is the matter with you guys?”

Yas Simonian sits with Intermountain Medical Center’s Dr. Brett Parkinson reviewing her ultrasound from 2005 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“Being consistently bad is not a good thing, and we are consistently bad,” Parkinson said. He attributes the state’s low numbers to Utah culture. “Women, particularly Utah women, take care of everybody they take care of themselves,” Parkinson said.

However, he says that is no excuse. “People don’t have to be dying from this disease as they were before,” Parkinson said. Neglecting regular screening affects more than the individual. “If they don’t take care of themselves, they can’t take care of others,” he added.

Parkinson said people should not worry about the risks of a mammogram. He debunked the myth that mammography can cause cancer. The risks are negligible, Parkinson added. “The amount of radiation that a woman gets from a mammogram is minuscule,” he said.

Simonian said many women are afraid to go in for screening because they think the process is painful.

“Plucking my eyebrows hurts more! It’s not a big deal,” she said.

The benefits of getting screened early on can pay off. “If it’s found on a screening mammogram, chances are it will be a stage 1 (cancer), it will be treatable, and it will be curable,” Parkinson said.

Although Yas Simonian is proud to be cancer free today, she still goes in for a regular mammogram screening once a year.

Yet, the dangers of waiting can be tragic.

“What’s really sad is when women come in with a lump that they’ve had for several years and that lump has already metastasized to other regions of the body, which makes treatment so much more difficult,” Parkinson said.

Simonian said it is simple: “Just get with the program and go get a mammogram.”

Parkinson recommends women go in for a yearly mammogram starting at age 40. He said women with a family history of breast cancer can start screening with more powerful tools like MRI.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories


Jed Boal

Red Cross CEO from Utah will deploy to Florida where she worked before

Red Cross volunteers from Utah are already helping in Florida, and more are on their way. Our regional Red Cross CEO, based here in Salt Lake City, will head there Saturday.
5 days ago
(Derek Petersen/KSL TV)...
Casey Scott, KSL TV

Casey Scott surprises Utah drivers with free gas cards

Gas prices in Utah have dropped around $0.30 over the last month, but Utahns are still paying over $4.15/gallon on average.
7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Ask these questions before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Cloud storage technology with 3d rendering drawer with files in cloud...
PC Laptops

How backing up your computer can help you relieve stress

Don't wait for something bad to happen before backing up your computer. Learn how to protect your data before disaster strikes.
young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Cancer survivor is on a mission to save other women’s lives