The Susan G. Komen Foundation of Chattanooga launched this year's Race for the Cure with stories from a group called the "Fab 15," made up of 15 local breast cancer survivors.
Darlene Smith spoke first, saying she was first diagnosed in January 2003. She said doctors told her the cancer was late stage, and the prognosis was not good.
She said, "Komen came into my life in a time I when really needed it." The organization not only allowed her to meet other people facing similar diagnoses, but also on a national level funded the research that eventually helped create the drug that saved her life.
Ms. Smith said, "When a person experiences a cancer diagnosis, it affects not only that person but everyone that loves them...Now that I'm on the other side, I try to use that experience to give back to other people."
She also pointed out, "The race means so much to so many people...75 percent of every dollar stays in our local community."
Debbie Fassino was diagnosed in November 2012 with infiltrating ductal breast cancer.
She said, "I actually had found it myself in a self exam, and my doctor had missed it in two biopsies." By that time, it was a stage IIIb.
For six months, Ms. Fassino underwent grueling chemotherapy and radiation treatments. She said the support of family, friends, and community was what got her through the lowest points, calling it "incredibly powerful."
Ms. Fassino encouraged others to listen to their "little voice" if they ever feel something is wrong. She said while at first, she feared her doctor would think she was a "hypochondriac," her intuition persisted.
She said, "I really talk about listening to that little voice. Don't shut it up because it's talking for a reason, and it saved my life."
Tina Kim also found her own cancer. She said it came as a shock because she had no family history and lead a very healthy lifestyle. She was also the mother of two young children at the time.
However, from the very first, she said she decided to look at it as just another chapter of her life she would have to face, emphasizing the importance of keeping a positive mental state.
She said, "What will be will be. If my life is going to end today, nothing can change that."
Ms. Kim said she wanted to tell anyone facing a similar situation not to be scared, but to "be happy until the last minute and don't give up."
She said, "Life is up and down." She said if you are happy but see someone else going through a difficult time, "be aware."
She continued, "When you're turn comes, accept it and go through it...God gives everybody opportunities but it depends on how you take it. Don't give up, keep going."