Most women begin to worry when they find a lump on their breast, but Nicole Phillips of Ohio never suspected a bruise-like shadow was her first indication of breast cancer.
“I was never meant to have cancer,” Phillips told InsideEdition.com.
Phillips said her family has no history of breast cancer, and she always went to her regular mammogram appointment scheduled every year, on her birthday.
She had just turned 40 when her doctor noticed the bruise on her left breast. She was told to get more testing.
“I went home and I looked at myself in the mirror,” Phillips recalled. “What I saw was a greenish haze, like a bruise, where that tumor was. There was [also] some strange dimpling in that area that I hadn’t noticed.”
She was soon diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer, and had to undergo a single mastectomy.
To chronologize her journey through cancer, she enlisted the help of photographer Ann Fredricks.
While Phillips said she was lucky to have never had to undergo chemotherapy, her biggest concern is her daughter, Jordan, and future generations of women in her family.
She was declared cancer free in August 2015, and now dedicates her time to helping spread awareness about the disease.
Jordan, 11, has since started working with the Susan G. Komen Foundation and has raised over $10,000 selling handmade coffee cup cozies for women in need.
Proceeds go toward funding mobile mammograms so lower income and more remote neighborhoods have the same access to screenings.