MANKATO — The radiation, which was already Plan C to begin with, was working, but it was damaging her skin and was extremely painful. She still had several weeks of radiation left and needed to decide whether to take a break or, as her doctors suggested, keep going through the pain.
Then she had a vision.
She saw herself in a pink boxing ring. She was in one corner. Breast cancer was in the other. “It didn’t have a shape, it was just this black malevolent mass coming toward me,” Saunders said.
Fists up, she prepared to fight.
“Then, I got really pissed,” she said. “I went from being sad and crying, poor me, to thinking, ‘F-you, cancer. If it’s gonna be you or me, it’s gonna be me! Give me everything you’ve got, bring it on, because I’m gonna kick your ass!”
That was in 2011. Today, after surgery, after beating not only breast cancer but also skin cancer, she’s become an evangelist for the strength of the human spirit. She’s healthy. She’s happy. And she loves to wear pink.
Pink sweatshirt, pink sweat pants, pink Crocs, pink ribbon pin, pink earrings and necklace.
She feels lucky to be here. She’s proud to be a survivor. And she wants the world to know.
She also wants the world to know she’s not ashamed of the fact that she’s without one of her breasts.
“I liked having two breasts, but I’m fine with having one,” Said Saunders, 44. “I don’t wear a prosthesis, I don’t wear a bra. I want people to know I have one breast. I wear tight shirts so people see me and know. This is my badge.”
Saunders’ goal isn’t just to make people smile. She’s also starting up a support group for survivors of breast cancer and their friends and family. She said she’s been through a lot, and she believes she’s ready to help others see the same kind of success she’s had.