AUGUSTA, GA. (WJBF) — All month long, WJBF NewsChannel 6 has been sharing stories of breast cancer survival. A local survivor, mother, and college professor now shares her story. 

“Breast cancer awareness meant something different to me now that I’m a survivor.”

Something like a physical self-check for a woman can change the trajectory of her life. Doctors say one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.

This happened to be true for Anna Harris-Parker. 

“It’s a ripple effect, you know, cancer is terrible, and it affects a lot of people even if those people aren’t the ones with the diagnosis, and in a strange way that gives you strength because you feel like all these people are really supporting you,” Harris-Parker said.

Anna’s life changed forever in November 2020. 

“I did have bad days– I remember two or three days after I was diagnosed, just really breaking down and telling my husband, you know, please, I just need some time. You know, take our son outside. I just need to fall apart, and I did, and then you just kind of get up and you know, move on with life,” Harris-Parker said.

Anna says the Breast Cancer Awareness community has a way of reminding people to check their bodies.

“Feel it on the first, you know, that’s something that we say a lot. So, the first of every month just make that, part of your routine that you do the self-exam in the shower.”

She says that women aren’t the only people who can develop breast cancer, so early detection and checkups are important. 

“I- I didn’t know that, you know, men could also get breast cancer, that’s not talked about as much. But when I was finishing up treatment, a college friend of mine reached out to me and said that her father had passed away from breast cancer.”

Since her diagnosis and victory against the disease, Anna has joined local organizations that help people deal with and fight through a diagnosis.

“For the Miracle Mile Walk, that just seemed like a good fit for me to get involved– especially because having gone through treatment during the pandemic, you’re just so isolated and I really wanted to meet people and see people and do something that wasn’t behind a screen,” Harris-Parker said.

Anna says though times felt hard, her support system was stronger.

“So many cards and care packages and flowers from friends from coworkers, from former students and you really realize– you know, how many people care about you, and I think that gives you a lot of strength when you realize that you’re not doing it alone, even though I was the one that– you know, physically going through all these things.”

She says we don’t know what we don’t know.

“I can’t stress enough how important it is to just, educate yourself.”