In May 2017, Tauranga woman Ann Mitchell was one of those thousands of women and she has lived to tell the tale in spectacular form.
She shared her story of bravery with Bay of Plenty Times reporter Jean Bell ahead of being a speaker at a Pink Ribbon Breakfast this Sunday, an occasion that brings her full circle.
Judging by her bubbly, upbeat personality, you wouldn't guess the battle with breast cancer Ann Mitchell has been through.
Or perhaps it is the Tauranga woman's celebration of life in spite of her fight with the illness - she climbed Mauao on the day of her double mastectomy - that has made her into the person she is today.
On the night of her diagnosis, Mitchell flew in the face of convention and literally had a celebration.
"It was a Monday and a couple of friends came around with a bottle of wine and we had a cancer party the