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Buddy Check 10: 11-year breast cancer survivor says self-checks saved her life

Ronni Chandler says if it wasn't for the monthly Buddy Check 10 reminders, she wouldn't have caught her cancer as quickly as she did.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Ronni Chandler never takes life for granted. She says if it wasn't for a breast self-check 11 years ago, she may not be here.

Chandler credits the Buddy Check 10 reminders with helping save her life. Because of the stories every tenth of the month, she found cancer close to the middle of her chest wall on March 10, 2012.

She was up to date on her mammograms, but because of the location of the lump, a test and like that didn't pick it up.

She caught her breast cancer early, and now she's sharing her story of hope, and encouraging others to do self-checks as well.

"It's important to live every day, like the gift that it is," Chandler said.

Chandler describes herself as a person who is living to encourage, inspire and teach.

Ever since she felt a small lump 11 years ago, she preaches the power of knowing your body.

"For me, it was tiny," Chandler said. "It was a slight change, but because I regularly do my self-exams, I knew that was different for me."

That deep feeling of 'different' is what led her to the doctor and revealed her early stage of breast cancer.

"First thing I did was cry, and it's okay," Chandler said. Immediately after, she and her husband prayed together.

She had surgery a month later and decided she would let faith fuel her flame.

"If God heals me here, I win," Chandler said. "If he heals me by taking me to heaven, I win. Either way, I win."

She credits the self-checks to her survival every day.

"I shudder to think what the outcome would have been, had I not had that monthly self-exam routine," Chandler said.

The monthly reminders on Channel 10 started her routine.

"I've probably been doing my monthly self-exam, probably as long as there has been a Buddy Check 10," Chandler said.

During her diagnosis, she never stopped living.

"As long as I live, I'm gonna live and not just survive," Chandler said.

She chooses to share her story, in hopes to ignite a feeling of unity.

"If those of us who have survived great devastation, don't talk about it, then those who are in that place right now can't have hope," Chandler said.

That's why this executive director of Project Grad wrote a book too. It's called "Light From a Candle: Hope for the Broken Believer in a Time of Devastation".

"The book really is written to people of faith who are facing devastating news," Chandler said. "[It's about] how you hold on to faith when your life is falling apart in pieces at your feet, and it really talks about leaning into faith and just some suggestions for how to do that."

As time ticks by, she doesn't let her diagnosis define her.

"Breast cancer, for me, was a moment," Chandler said. "It was a moment in a very beautiful life, and I'm gonna keep living."

Instead, to her, sharing her story about her diagnosis now that she's through it, is about fanning her flame of hope and recovery.

She says she couldn't have made it without the support system she found in her friends, family and neighbors.

Chandler says she continues to do her self-checks every tenth of the month, and you should too!

Chandler says her daughter is the buddy she calls to remind to do a self-check.

You can buy her book online, or it's for sale at the Beck Cultural Exchange Center.

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