(NEWS CENTER) — When faced with a diagnosis of breast cancer, it's no time to be a "shrinking violet." In this month's Buddy to Buddy report, we meet a woman who shows us how important it is to find your voice – and use it, persistently.
Joyce Santerre says the most important thing that she would like people to know is that you need to be your own advocate so you can make an informed decision.
Knowing her risk factors, Santerre decided to take the offensive and do whatever needed to be done to avoid breast cancer. Turns out she was a little too late.
"I have a family history of breast cancer, and I was having some symptoms and had them checked out. Everything turned out to be benign. All was fine and I was sent on my way," she said. "However, I kept having the symptoms.
» VIDEO: Joyce's Story - Interview No. 1
"Because of my family history, it was decided that I have a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction, hoping to avoid cancer, however the biopsy did come back and it was cancer."
Santerre's self-advocacy didn't stop there.
"I guess I wasn't surprised, but I was not happy of course, so I again did some research," she said. "I knew radiation was what was recommended. Some would have said, 'no, you don't need radiation,' but I took the most assertive, aggressive approach and had the radiation that was recommended.
» VIDEO: Joyce's Story - Interview No. 2
"To get through that, I just got through it, one day at a time. I tried to walk every day a little bit. I had some retail therapy. I like to shop."
An unknown author once said, "Be bold enough to use your voice, brave enough to listen to your heart and strong enough to live the life you've always imagined."
Santerre beat cancer by being her own advocate, and you can too.
Find more of our Buddy to Buddy segments here.