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After beating breast cancer twice, this St. Louis woman is on a mission to help others fight the disease

"This is what I’m here to do. What I’ve been through has given me strength to give you strength."

ST. LOUIS — The word cancer is one of the hardest things for a person to hear. But a cancer diagnosis doesn’t mean a death sentence.

Valeda Keys knows this first-hand because she took on the disease, twice. The journey has taught her to appreciate the little things in life.

“I take one second at a time and trouble don’t last,” she told 5 On Your Side.

Keys knows trouble all too well. After she was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 and again a short time later.

“Hit with a second diagnosis a year and 5 days later,” she said.

Hit with the one-two punch, Keys decided to punch back.

“I had to fight for not only myself but for my family,” Keys explained.

The fight included a double mastectomy, learning that she had the BRCA-2 gene, and many moments of doubt.

“I had plenty of pity parties, but I decided I wasn’t going to put much pity in the party,” she said.

A comfortable chair helped in easing her pains.

“I had slept in a recliner for two years due to seven surgeries,” she said.

Twelve years after that first diagnosis, the disease has been defeated.

“I am cancer free,” she exclaimed.

She now uses her experience to inspire and encourage other women during their cancer fight. She sees it as her calling.

“This is what I’m here to do. What I’ve been through has given me strength to give you strength,” she said.

Keys launched her own nonprofit called Valeda’s Hope. She provides women with recliners at no cost to them to help in their recovery.

“You can’t heal if you’re not probably rested,” she explained.

She has given out more than 300 recliners so far.

“I love giving back to the community where I can,” she added.

Her foundation doesn’t just provide comfort for the community, it brings awareness to the importance of breast health and a person knowing their family history.

“We’re dying at an alarming rate, Black women, because of late diagnosis, afraid, lack of knowledge,” Keys explained.

She also stresses to women that this is a disease that can be defeated.

“Cancer that you can fight and win,” she said.

If you would like to learn more about her foundation and you could receive a recliner, click here.

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