On Sunday, October 18, regardless of the weather, Shirley Miliano is planning to take a long walk at Jones Beach: five miles, to be exact.

But she won’t be alone. She’ll be joined by numerous other breast cancer survivors, along with their friends and family, for the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, a nationwide event to raise awareness and funds.

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Diagnosed in August 2008, Shirley learned firsthand that you don’t need to fall under the “high risk” category to get breast cancer.

“No one in my family has ever had any form of cancer,” she says. “I don’t smoke or drink, and my health has always been good, so it was a real surprise.”

Shirley, who underwent a bilateral mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation and reconstruction, began journaling about her experience from the very beginning, and encourages survivors to speak up.

“I never expected to get sick. Now I always tell everyone my story and remind them to get a mammogram.”