Sharde Lamneck’s wedding on September 3, 2011 went off without a hitch, a remarkable feat given that she was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer in April and underwent a double mastectomy in June. By the time her wedding date rolled around, she was still in mid-treatment and her hair had fallen out.

“It was definitely tough, I’m not going to lie,” says the 26-year-old teacher from Islip. During a self-breast exam she’d discovered a tender spot and immediately went to the doctor. After tests, she prepared for the potentially bad news by doing research and coming into the doctor’s office with a list of questions. “I asked about fertility, chemo, and surgery. I planned for the worst because I didn’t want to be blindsided,” she says.

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She cites her fiancé as a tremendous support as she underwent treatments while continuing to plan the wedding, which she refused to cancel. “It was a light at the end of the tunnel. It kept me focused,” she says. Her parents were sources of strength, too; they’d been through their own battle when Lamneck’s dad was diagnosed with leukemia in 1992.

After the nuptials, Lamneck sought support groups. “That’s when it hit me like a ton of bricks,” she says. But a young survivor’s support group at Good Samaritan Hospital has been a huge coping mechanism and she encourages others to seek help. “It’s a chance to share your story with another person going through what you went through.” And that benefits everyone.