Patricia Ann Swinton was 28 years old, single and the mother of a young daughter. Things were complicated enough, and then she got the news that she had breast cancer.

With prayers and love from her family and friends, Patricia stayed strong and hopeful. Her mother became her caregiver, her crutch and her source of inspiration. In order to get back to normalcy, Patricia’s mother urged her to connect with a support group.  It was then that Patricia made the first call to the American Cancer Society’s Reach to Recovery program. Entering a circle of survivors became a turning point in her healing process, and she found that sharing the experience with others and listening to other women’s stories gave her a sense of community and optimism.

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Now at the age of 54, Patricia has completely immersed herself in causes for breast cancer awareness and prevention. She is extremely active in the Susan G. Komen Foundation, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, Race for a Cure, and Sisters of Greater Long Island, an African-American breast cancer survivor support group. “I plan to stay involved in as many survivor organizations as possible,” she says, “so that I can continue to encourage other women to stay healthy by getting their yearly mammograms and check ups.”

Her ability to offer guidance and support is being put to the ultimate test, however, as both her sister and good friend have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. Patricia vows she will be there for them every step of the way.