Breast Cancer Survivor Helps Women Through Their Diagnoses

A woman who beat breast cancer twice decided to take her experiences as inspiration to guide other women throughout their own diagnoses.

Kelly Stassel was first diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 36-years-old. She had no one her age to talk to about it, so she decided to dedicate her life to helping women through their cancer diagnoses.

Stassel said she was shocked to be diagnosed with cancer in 2004, then again in 2014.

"To my surprise, they discovered another mass, and that meant that I was going to go through biopsies," Stassel said. "It was then discovered that it was far more aggressive and slightly larger than the first breast cancer."

She said she went through mastectomy and chemotherapy.

"I had nobody to really talk about it or relate to, which is what spearheaded me to wanting to become a volunteer," Stassel said.

Stassel is one of many Breastlink "angels," who are women who have been through a cancer diagnosis who watch over and guide other women. Breastlink is an organization dedicated to breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.

"Having gone through it twice really resonated with me that this was now going to become my purpose. I was getting all the signs and all the messages telling me, 'You need to go do this,'" Stassel said.

Jill Canales, director of volunteer services at Breastlink, said it is important for patients to see there is another side to a breast cancer diagnosis.

"You kind of go through the storm and the difficulty and the times where you think, 'Why me' or, 'Why does this have to happen?'" Canales said. "But then you see that there’s life on the other side."

Stassel has traveled the road to recovery with more than 50 women, including Jennifer Escobedo, who said Stassel inspired her to follow in her footsteps to become an angel.

"Because of the way that Kelly helped me get through my journey, I wanted to do the same for others," Escobedo said.

Stassel said there is not a single morning where a survivor does not wake up and think of cancer, but added that there is always hope at the end of the day.

"When I can actually sit down with women and help them through their battle and their fight, it heals me at the same time. It’s powerful," Stassel said.

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