“Every one of these pictures has a story,” said Sheila Belcher of London as she places a photo into the collage she’s been working on.

“This one was taken before I was diagnosed,” she adds, a picture in hand.

The collage is the latest of Belcher’s many projects. From scrapbooking to raising her beloved Shitzu dogs, Belcher is a woman of many hobbies — hobbies that kept her mind and body active during her battles with breast cancer.

Belcher was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1996 — but she’s since beat it twice.

It’s a disease that runs in the family — her younger sister has recently been diagnosed for the second time, and her aunt died from it after a hard-fought battle.

“I always envisioned myself growing up to be a business owner. My mother was a cook, and I always hoped to own my own business, maybe a restaurant,” Belcher said.

Belcher graduated from business college as a young woman. She met Stoke Jr., and the couple raised their children — Raymond, John, Roger and Angel.

Belcher led a busy life working and taking care of her home.

“But then my aunt Phyllis was diagnosed with breast cancer, and I knew it could be in the family,” Belcher said.

In 1996, Belcher found a lump in her breast.

“I just had a bad feeling about that lump, and a woman knows when something is not right with her body,” she said. “I didn’t have any insurance at the time, so it was about four months before I went in to have it checked out.”

After a biopsy determined the lump was cancerous, a lumpectomy was ordered.

“I wasn’t surprised, and I knew I had to do whatever was necessary to get better,” she said.

Through her battle with breast cancer, Belcher kept a positive outlook.

“I guess this positive attitude is something that I got from my mother, and it’s something I’ve always had. I have always tried to see the good side of things, that is just the way I have always been,” she said.

During chemotherapy and radiation treatments, family and faith played an integral role in Belcher’s recovery.

“I turned to my aunt Phyllis. Since she had been through it all before, she was able to really understand what I was going through. She would call me and ask questions, she was a huge support,” she said.

“Faith has played a big role, too. My faith has always been strong, and I knew God was going to take care of me. Along with the medical treatment and family support, I know all the prayers helped a lot.”

In 1997, after completing chemotherapy and radiation treatment, Belcher’s recovery process was far from over.

“The chemotherapy changes your body; it kills the good cells along with the bad. It left me tired and left my immune system weak. I stayed home a lot of the time because I didn’t want to risk getting sick or getting an infection,” said Belcher.

Belcher made a full recovery and continued going to the oncologist for annual check ups.

“I thought my battle with breast cancer was over, but I was wrong,” she said. “1999 was a hard year, my mother passed in September and in November I was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time.”

After a routine visit to the oncologist, Belcher said she had a bad feeling.

“I had that feeling again, that something was wrong. When the tests came back, I was not surprised to hear that a biopsy was needed,” she said. “I didn’t even need to wait for the results of the biopsy. The doctor didn’t even have to say anything, I could tell by the look on his face that it was cancer.”

A mastectomy was the next step in treatment, and Belcher faced this step in her recovery with the same optimism that she has had all along.

“I knew it was the right thing to do to get rid of it. Having my breast removed just made sense. It was the only way to make sure the cancer was really gone,” said Belcher.

Once again Belcher endured chemotherapy, and once again she relied on her family for support.

“I knew I had to stay positive because I knew God has plans for me,” Belcher said.

After making a second recovery, Belcher sees every day as a blessing.

“I continue to go to the oncologists for my check ups. The doctors just won’t let you forget that once you have had cancer, it can return at any time in many different forms.”

Belcher’s younger sister was recently diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time.

“I always tell her that no matter what happens, or what they tell you, don’t ever give up. Just don’t ever give up.”

Though Aunt Phyllis passed away after a long battle with breast cancer, Belcher will be eternally grateful for all her support and advice.

“I know after battling cancer twice, life cannot hand me an obstacle that I cannot overcome, with a little help from my family and faith,” she said.

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