Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer-related death among women in the United States. It is estimated that approximately 40,000 women die from breast cancer each year. Sadly, Victoria's mother was one of them. But not before she turned her battle into an opportunity to help others. It is Victoria's wish that her mother's story will give people who are fighting the fight hope.

"My mother passed away of breast cancer 9 years ago when I was seven years old and my little brother was 3. She was actively involved with the Susan G. Komen foundation, and even started the Annul Pink Ribbon Sunday at St. Pius church. I am here to finish what my mom started, and help find a cure for breast cancer."

The following account was originally posted by Victoria's mother, Ida, on the Hopestory website in January of 2003:

"Five years ago my 2 year old daughter accidentally kicked my right breast while we were playing. Of course it hurt and I held myself and felt something very abnormal. I went to see the doctor the following morning, had a mammogram that afternoon and a devastating call from the doctor that evening. The results of the mammogram were abnormal and I needed to see a surgeon first thing Monday morning.

On Monday after the surgeon examined me and reviewed my x-ray. The following day I had a biopsy. Yes, there was a malignancy but the lymph nodes were negative. It was non - invasive ductile carcinoma. Three days later I had a mastectomy.

Luckily I didn't need chemotherapy and I was given a one percent chance of recurrence. Two years later I had my second child and put the nightmare behind me. Just when I was about to plan my 5 year survival party I relapsed, only worse.

Last January 2002 I was faced with the biggest challenge of my life. You see the recurrence was worse. The cancer came back and metastasized to the bones and liver. You can't imagine how I, a mother of two small children, felt when they gave us the news. I've been undergoing chemotherapy for 12 months already. But I haven't lost hope. A mommy's gotta do what she's gotta do! As hard it is for me physically, during the past year I educate on breast health and I have started my own foundation. You see this is what keeps my soul alive.

Everyone around me knows not to let me give up and when I see them wearing their pink ribbon I feel strong and alive, When I see my 6 year old daughter wear a scarf on her head like I wear, I feel solidarity. When my Husband reminds me of who I am and how strong I am, I feel loved. When I heard about all the people that are flying down to El Paso to join me in the Race for the Cure, I felt overwhelmed with love and peace. Live off of HOPE!"

As science makes strides in detection and treatment methods, the odds of surviving breast cancer are getting better. With early detection, the odds of surviving breast cancer are now closer to 96%.