ALEXANDER COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - Imagine being diagnosed with cancer twice.
Once with leukemia at the age of 20.
Deena Hart says that was a big deal.
"Went through two years of treatment for that," Hart said. "The chemo and the radiation. Lost all my hair. It kind of pauses your life for a little bit and you go through that and you never think that it would happen again."
But for Hart, it did.
Cancer came knocking on the door again 18 years later.
This time it was breast cancer.
"I found a couple of lumps," Hart said. "I wouldn't even call it a lump, like a BB, a couple of BBs and come to find out it was cancer."
Doctors found a hormonal based tumor in Hart's breast. By the time she was diagnosed, the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes.
However, the second time around, the fight against cancer was a little different.
"You have a career, you have your kids, you have your family," Deena said
That's why this fight was for them.
"You do it for your family," Hart said. "The people that you love because you have to do it for them. You have to stay strong for them, so you can be around for them."
Hart says family got her through a double mastectomy, 36 rounds of radiation. and three reconstructive surgeries.
"They were my strength," Hart said. "They were my rock. That's how I survived."
Two years out, Hart is on the road to recovery, and a testament to others.
"You can do this," Hart said. "If you have cancer, you can beat it. I've done it twice. So it can be done. I just want everyone to know it's not a death sentence... It does not define you. It does not take over your life."
Interestingly, Hart has no family history of cancer. Turns out, that is true for 85 percent of all breast cancer patients.
That is why her story is a reminder that we must take charge of our health and check for symptoms each month.