College student beats cancer and is now helping other young women

When Colleen Cappon was about to start her senior year at the State University of New York at Cortland, she found a lump in her breast. The doctor told her it was likely just a fibroadenoma — a mass of dense cells. She recommended that when Cappon came back over winter break, she get the mass removed.

But something felt off to Cappon, and she thought, “Why wait until Christmas?” She still had a month to go before heading back to school, so she decided to have it removed. “I can’t really explain it,” she tells PEOPLE of her gut instinct.

The 21-year-old had the mass removed, and it turned out to be cancer. Had she waited the Doctors said she probably wouldn't have survived. She started treatment, and still started her last year of college on time.

Cappon arranged her classes so she could travel the two hours back to her parent’s house to get chemo on Friday and recover over the weekend and then return to her courses on Monday. She didn’t want any special treatment or accommodations made, even though her professors offered them. And she made it through her entire senior year without missing a single class or assignment!

She went on to graduate and marry her college boyfriend, who stood by her through her breast cancer treatment. And Cappon has shown no evidence of cancer since May 2008 and is looking forward to the future.

“I remember really clearly when I was diagnosed feeling like there was no one I could find at my age who had done this and came out okay on the other side, leading a healthy, normal life,” she says. “You’ve just gotta keep your chin up and remember you’re going to come out on the other side.”

You can see some of her photos from that time and read more about her in this People interview

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