St. Bernards celebrates 2013 Warrior Women Survivor Hall honoree

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - More than 2,000 women are affected by breast cancer every year in Arkansas.

The Region 8 community honored one of these women who fought cancer and beat it.

Kerri Cooper is this year's Warrior Women Survivor Hall honoree for St. Bernards.

The hospital held a reception for Cooper Sunday afternoon.

Cooper was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 25. It took nine months, but she fought the cancer and beat it.

"Hopefully we can shed a light on a very dark moment in somebody's life," Cooper said.

Three years ago, she was there herself.

"I was scared. You don't expect it at the age of 25. You're certainly not ever prepared for that. Most 25 year olds aren't having that cross their minds," Cooper said.

She began her battle with breast cancer as a patient at St. Bernards.

"She actually started off here and everything and we got to know her," Dee Collins, a patient care navigator at St. Bernards Outpatient Imaging Center, said.

"It was very long but worth it," Cooper said.

Three years later, her picture will now hang on the "Warrior Women Survivor Wall" at the St. Bernards Outpatient Imaging Center, the same hall she and many others like her walk down during treatment.

"It's an honor because we've all fought the good fight and we've all done it for various reasons," Cooper said.

One of her main reasons is her twin daughters, Katie and Emily.

"They were a huge reason for me fighting the way I did because I knew that I had to do it for them and I had to show them what strength is. So now they know," Cooper said.

"Breast cancer may be something you have to deal with and you may have to go through that struggle, but you can overcome it and Kerri is a great example of that," Collins said.

Collins said Cooper is also a great example of how cancer doesn't follow any rules.

"It can affect anybody, any age, any race and so it's just one way for us to show the ladies that are out there anybody can be affected and anybody can survive," Collins said.

"Become self-aware of your body and don't think you're immune to it. Check yourself. If I hadn't checked myself, my outcome could have been very much different," Cooper said.

But instead, her picture is an everyday reminder to other women seeking treatment: inspiration to fight and hope for a cure.

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