PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A breast cancer diagnosis changes a person's life forever and that's why survivors often become committed to giving back - raising awareness and funds, and especially helping others fighting the disease.
A Philadelphia woman has been driven by her own family's history to help others Beat the Odds of Breast Cancer.
Karen Oliver was just 18 when her mother announced she had breast cancer - and it was far along.
"That was February, I graduated in June. She did not make my graduation," she said.
Barely 20 years later, Karen found herself in the same fight.
"My mother left us at an early age, and I wasn't going to do that," she said.
By the time Karen beat her cancer, she'd decided she had to do more to help others in the fight of their lives. So she took part in the American Cancer Society's Making Strides walks and she volunteered for Reach to Recovery - drawing on her own experience and giving the support she didn't know was available during her fight.
"Maybe something that I say, or do, or offer, can help change that tide in your life," she said.
Karen's mission took her and daughter Maya to South Africa 5 years ago, to the International Reach to Recovery conference.
"It was a very joyous, educational, informational conference that's something I'll never forget. Friends that I've met, that I still have from being there," she said.
She learned that in many countries, mammograms aren't done routinely, that many tumors aren't caught till stage 3 or 4.
The conference and trip gave her a new enthusiasm for giving breast cancer patients the support she wished her mother had.
"That until we find a cure, there's always going to be a need for someone like me to reach out to someone else who is going through this journey, whether it be just for an ear, whether it be for resources," said Karen.
The Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk is on Sunday at Cooper River Park in Pennsauken, New Jersey.
To register for the walk, CLICK HERE.
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Local breast cancer survivor using own experience to help others beat the odds
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