NEW ORLEANS -- Each step Representative Julie Stokes takes towards her MRI appointment feels surreal. Stokes still cannot believe she's been diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer.
"I've only found one person who has the triple negative breast cancer, which is what I have. Which is a little tough," Rep. Julie Stokes said.
It's why she gave up the biggest challenge so far in her career, running for State Treasurer.
"Once I found out that it was triple negative, and you know my kids and my husband and my family. It's like you got to pull back and realize what's important. And the fight for your life and to be with your kids is far greater," Stokes said.
Since announcing her cancer, love and support keeps pouring in. From community groups to the state capitol, people are wearing pink, using the hashtag "Fight like Julie." Fellow state representative and longtime friend Helena Moreno is one of them.
"Through all this, she's also inspiring people, and bringing awareness to breast cancer," Rep. Helena Moreno said.
According to the American Cancer Society there are 3.1 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. That includes people who've completed treatment and those who are still fighting the battle. At University Medical Center, in the Greater New Orleans area go there not just for treatment, but for support.
UMC Nurse Navigator Delia Young help is cancer patients cope with their diagnosis.
"The C word is a very scary thing. And you want to just have that layer of support around you," Young said.
Patients come not just for treatment for their bodies, but also their support. They attend yoga and art classes to lift them up, when sometimes, the odds could drag them down.
"This isn't the end. You know, there's life outside of breast cancer. Or any cancer for that matter," Young said.
"Just sometimes you, you hit a place where you've got nothing, you've got nothing. And all of a sudden, all of this good, amazing love gets heaped up on you and you know. That's just blessed," Rep. Stokes said.