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Buddy Check 10: Community support helps save breast cancer fighter

Suzy Benedetti said her breast cancer diagnosis scared her at first, but once she found a solid support system in family, friends and fighters, her attitude shifted.

FARRAGUT, Tenn. — During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, survivors want everyone to know there is hope as long as they have support from loved ones.

One Farragut mother said her journey through cancer and chemotherapy would have been much harder if it wasn't for her friends, family and fellow fighters. Suzy Benedetti will never forget the day her world changed. It was April 22, 2021, which is Earth Day. Now, it's forever part of her story.

"I can tell you that the earth moved a little bit under my feet that day," Benedetti said.

After finding a lump in her right breast, tests revealed Suzy's new life chapter. She was diagnosed with triple-positive breast cancer.

She had skipped her mammogram in 2020 due to the pandemic, and once she found the lump in 2021, she scheduled an emergency screening.

"I just couldn't believe it," Benedetti said. "I just could not believe that was going to be my story."

From that moment, her life rotated around chemo, surgeries and radiation.

"I woke up every day and decided, 'Today I'm going to fight. Today I'm going to fight and tomorrow I'm going to fight and you never quit.' You can't quit fighting," Benedetti said. "You just can't."

Her support system sprung into action.

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"She found the confidence to fight this battle, and she found the stamina and the encouragement to keep fighting," said Tony Benedetti, Suzy's husband.

She found that hope and support not just through her husband, Tony, and kids, but also through Breast Connect, a community of fighters and survivors.

"Just having this group of women that can just cheer you on and just be on the sidelines if they need to be but also really being a very impactful person to help us get through this," Suzy said.

That's the whole goal of the nonprofit, and why Nina Reineri started it.

Breast Connect has a website and Facebook Group, both connecting fighters and survivors who have all battled or are currently battling a diagnosis.

"Your family and your friends can help you, your kids can be there hugging on you, but to have somebody who has gone through it. It's special and it's very different and it's very uplifting and it gives you hope and joy," Reineri said.

Now, Suzy Benedetti's wounds are healing, and she's added a new color to her wardrobe. The pink ribbon adorns her jackets, and a pink blanket keeps hers warm.

Her journey sparked an interest in giving back.

"It's been on our heart to start a nonprofit, to help women that need a power chair," Suzy said.

She spent a large part of her recovery in a motorized recliner, and she knows how crucial it is to be comfortable through the process. That's why she and her husband want to start raising money to drop those chairs off on women's doorsteps.

It's another chapter in Suzy's story, coming full circle.

"Nothing is easy about this journey," she said. "But just try to take one step in front of the next. Take a deep breath and trust the process."

If you are a breast cancer fighter or survivor, you are invited to join Breast Connect's Facebook Page or find more information about the organization on its website. You can also find ways to donate at breastconnect.org.

Two Knoxville breast cancer survivors who own businesses are also hosting fundraisers the whole month of October to give back to Breast Connect.

Bliss in Downtown Knoxville and West Town Mall is giving a portion of all sales.

The Happy Envelope on Kingston Pike is giving half of all personalized stationery sales to Breast Connect during the month of October.

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