Whitney: Local native, activist, loses long battle with breast cancer
Stefanie LaRue, a 1993 graduate of Whitney High School and a well-known activist for young women with breast cancer, died Wednesday at her home in Venice Beach, Calif., after a 12-year-battle with Stage IV breast cancer.
She was 42.
In 2005, when LaRue was only 30, her boyfriend discovered a lump in her breast.
A series of doctors misdiagnosed LaRue, sending her home with antibiotics and convincing her she was too young to have breast cancer.
By the time she was properly diagnosed, the cancer had spread to her bones and she was given less than a year to live.
“The one thing I kept hearing over and over is ‘Stefanie, you’re 30 years old. You’re in perfect health, you don’t have breast cancer,’” LaRue said in an online video in which she shared of her story.
LaRue became an outspoken advocate for women younger than 40 with breast cancer, garnering a large online following, speaking at conferences around the country and appearing on national TV networks, including CNN and NBC, Lifetime and The Hallmark Channel.
LaRue also wrote a number of articles, which appeared in such magazines as Oprah’s “O” and “Self.”
LaRue was heavily involved with the Susan G. Komen Foundation and once appeared in the group’s “News for the Cure” video series.
She also served as a spokeswoman for the 2007 Revlon Run/Walk campaign.
LaRue’s story made it to the big screen when it became the focus of a powerful documentary that won the Los Angeles Reel Women in Film Festival called “The Quiet War.”
“My mission, my passion, my goal, my determination is to educate. Educate. Educate,” LaRue once said.
The Whitney graduate spent the last 12 years doing just that.
LaRue lobbied Congress to pass breast cancer legislation and was successful in receiving a declaration proclamation in 2006.
“I had the pleasure to travel to Washington DC for the National Breast Cancer Coalition Conference,” LaRue said while sharing her story online.
“I think because I was the youngest one there and only bald-headed female there, they really wanted to make sure that I was pushed to the front of the groups. The first person to walk into each and every Congresswoman and man’s office because of the impact they knew I would make.”
LaRue spent her final years advocating for alternative cancer treatments, including cannabis.
She tried numerous treatments including chemotherapy and surgery over her 12-year battle, but after her third cancer recurrence in 2013, she began following the Rick Simpson Oil Protocol, using cannabis oil for treatment, an effort she claims led her to a cancer-free period.
In 2014, LaRue claims her scans were clear.
“Cannabis oil killed all of the tumors in my body. My monthly lab and quarterly scan results are proof that the cannabis oil treatment worked,” she told a publication advocating for medical marijuana use.
“It is going to take our actual patient community to help fast track changing the laws federally so it is important that we share, support one another, and join forces in advocating together on this journey until we are not deemed as criminals any longer. Yes, change is happening, but it is not happening fast enough!”
Shelia Laye was a classmate of LaRue in Whitney.
She said despite the fact LaRue lived far from home, she often helped newly-diagnosed women in Central Texas.
She says LaRue will be greatly missed, but leaves behind a legacy of love.
“She lived her life every day to the fullest,” Laye said. “She fought for what she believed in. And she loved with all she had.”
LaRue once said her best advice for newly diagnosed patients was to get educated and advocate for themselves.
“I would just say: Be your own voice. Be your own advocate. Jump in, engage, interact, ask for help from others on the same journey. It’s about quality of life. Do the work. Do not live in fear … live in love.”
Funeral arrangements for Stefanie LaRue are pending.