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When Cook was first diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer, doctors predicted she had just a 40 percent chance of living another five years. So five years of remission later — after chemotherapy and radical mastectomies to remove her entire breast tissue and muscle — the art professor decided to honor her health with a lace tattoo over her scars. "I began reclaiming my body to show that cancer doesn’t always have to leave the last mark," Cook told PEOPLE. “It’s difficult to explain how happy my tattoo makes me feel. To me it is a thing of beauty and every morning when I see it — it’s like it’s for the first time — it puts a smile on my face."
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The 17-year-old may have lost her hair, but Salazar never lost her confidence. While undergoing treatment for stage 2 nodular sclerosis Hodgkin lymphoma, the high school student and aspiring model organized a "princess" photoshoot, complete with a Cinderella-blue gown and a fairytale setting. "Cancer doesn't stop me from being a princess," Salazar tweeted.
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After doctors found breast cancer in her right nipple, Habbal underwent a lumpectomy to remove it entirely. While she could have had the nipple reconstructed, the 37-year-old jewelry designer took a different approach, opting for a meaningful tattoo of bows, stars, dark pink roses and her daughter's name. "I’d be happy if the image inspires more women to love their new bodies and own their sexuality again after surviving breast cancer — and not just by getting a tattoo, but by doing what is right for them and rocking it!” she told PEOPLE.
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Four months into motherhood, Fogarty's favorite activity was breastfeeding her newborn son Milo. But when a hard lump on her breast turned out to be cancer that required a mastectomy and chemotherapy, the 29-year-old had to give up nursing immediately. To memorialize the loving bond she had built with Milo, Fogarty quickly organized a photoshoot for her last day of breastfeeding, and shared the pictures on Facebook. “There are so many people who said they are inspired by me, and I’m so amazed at the world, and the outpouring of love and support I’ve received," she told PEOPLE.
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Stuck in the hospital for long chemotherapy treatments, Iliev-Piselli needed a way to stay positive while she battled breast cancer. So the 36-year-old mom decided to infuse some joy into her sessions with what she called the Glam Chemo Project. Armed with dresses donated by Rent the Runway — and with the help of a makeup artist and a photographer — Iliev-Piselli experimented with stunning new looks during her chemo visits. Iliev-Piselli says the photos gave her new energy. “I’d look at the pretty ones and think, ‘I’m not as hideous as I feel. I’m not as depressed as I feel. If I have to, if I need to, I can pull it together,’ ” she told PEOPLE.
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When White learned that her breast cancer wasn't just back — it had spread to her chest wall, spine and lungs and was now stage IV — the mom of two sunk into a depression. At the urging of a friend, she decided to enter an all-ages beauty pageant to boost her spirits and promote her platform of self-checking for breast cancer. White ended up winning, becoming Mrs. Virginia All-Star United States. "It was just something to get me out of the funk," she told PEOPLE. "But something good has obviously come out of it."
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