MADISON, Wis. - If there's one thing cancer has taught Annette Aeberhard, it's perspective.
"Something could happen like that," Aeberhard said, with a snap of her fingers. "Do what you want to do. Be happy."
Ten years after her own diagnosis, she's gained a lot of perspective.
"Don't put things off too far. You may not get there."
Aeberhard's own future was tested in October 2008, during a routine mammogram.
"They just said they found a spot. They wanted to do an MRI," said Aeberhard.
So she went back, not thinking anything of it. After an ultrasound and biopsy, Aeberhard was told to make an appointment with her doctor.
"I told my husband, 'You need to come with me. I have cancer.' He goes, 'They didn't say that,'" said Aeberhard. "But if I didn't have cancer, they wouldn't say that."
Her intuition was right: as a 45-year-old mother of three, Aeberhard was diagnosed with Stage 2 invasive ductile carcinoma, cancer in the milk ducts.
"When you have to tell your kids, you have to put your brave face on and tell them everything is going to be OK," she said.
Aebergard underwent a double mastectomy two months after receiving the results of her mammogram.
"That was the thing that saved me," she remembered. That mammogram was a test she almost didn't get.
"My doctor had said at the time, 'You've had five mammograms that have been normal, so you can skip this one,'" Aeberhard said.
"But I said, 'I'm here, let's schedule it.' And if I hadn't, and waited until the next year, that just put fear in me."
Susan G. Komen, the force behind Saturday's Race for the Cure, helps women afford mammograms.
Now, 10 years after her own fight, Aeberhard is fixated on that finish line.
"And then, I'm going to get emotional now," she said. "It just gets me. I don't know what it is. But I'm always crying when I get across the line."
"I'm stronger than I thought," said Aeberhard, who is now sharing the perspective she's gained.
"I feel like it gave me a second lease on life. You better do what you want to do."
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