Breast Cancer survivor starts effort for early detection

For 30-year-old Raquel Smith, every plastic bottle is a story. (

Imagine the effort it would take to save one life.

For 30-year-old Raquel Smith, every plastic bottle is{}a story. One that she, too, is familiar with.

Three years ago Smith noticed a lump in her left breast. Acting fast, she went to the doctor.

"He began to look at it and looked around and said 'Oh, it's nothing, you're too young for Breast Cancer or anything like that...don't worry about it'," she said.

Smith's family urged her to seek a second opinion.

"She was like, 'Well, I don't think it's Breast Cancer [but] we're just going to pull it out anyway so you won't worry about it and give you a piece of mind'," Smith said.

She had a lumpectomy.

She was told to go home, rest and return to work the next week.

Then, later that same week, she got a call from her doctor.

"She said 'No, everything's not quite OK...we just need you to come in'," Smith said. "I was like, 'Why are you looking at me like that, do I have Breast Cancer?'. She was like, 'Yeah'."

The cancer, normally found in older women was very aggressive and spreading.

"Now at 27 that was a lot to take in," Smith said. "I was like, 'Oh, my God'. My life kind of stopped for a second."

She had a double mastectomy and chemo. But, after three months of radiation treatments, doctors saw something else.

"Come to find out, I was about two-months pregnant with my son, Rob," she said.

Radiation had to stop because of her high risk pregnancy.

Through everything, Smith push on. For her. For her daughter. For her son.

"Yes, Breast Cancer has changed my life," she said. "But, God has given me a second life. That life is to help other women."

That's where the plastic bottles come in.

She's collecting bottles to recycle. She wants to use the money to pay for mammograms for women 35-years-old and younger.

"I really feel women should start being aware of their breasts and the changes they go through as young as 16, 17 and 18 [years old]," Smith said. "If that saves three or four lives...I feel like I've done my job."

Early detection. Something Smith didn't have...but something she wants to give to others.

Smith will be hosting a plastic bottle drive October 26 across the street from the Birmingham Police Headquarters.

You can also visit her web site, to make a donation. You can also visit any Cadence Bank and make a donation under the account "Pink Topps."